A BRIDGE Workshop (Electoral Observation) that was recently conducted for Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The IGAD Member States are Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Eritrea.
The four (4) day BRIDGE Workshop was held on 24 – 27 March 2010 at the Continental Hotel in the Northern Part of the Coastal City of Mombasa (the second largest city in Kenya). The workshop brought together participants from 6 IGAD Member States (Uganda was unable to participate because of other pressing commitments). Other participants came from the IGAD Secretariat based in Djibouti in the Republic of Djibouti. The workshop was conducted in English with translations from English to French and French to English – so the languages for the workshop were English and French. The BRIDGE Office was extremely helpful in obtaining French translations of the Observation Module Resources. IGAD, the Institute for Education in Democracy, which was contracted by IGAD to facilitate the workshop.
Yufnalis Okubo, the Legal Advisor and Acting Director, Peace & Security Division of the IGAD Secretariat officially opened the Course giving it the stamp of high level support it deserved. He also participated fully in the workshop for all the four days; as did very high level representatives from the Member States of IGAD. Mr. Okubo also, officiated the closing ceremony of the workshop.
The four day BRIDGE Workshop trained a pool of observers; 28 of whom will be deployed to observe the Sudan Elections scheduled for 11-13th April 2010. These observers will constitute the IGAD Observer Mission which will be deployed in the whole of Sudan (North and South) between the 4th – 6th April 2010. The IGAD Observer Mission is expected to remain in Sudan until the 17th April 2010. This is the first time for IGAD as an organisation to train a pool of observers. IGAD plans to actively involve itself in electoral observation in its member States and beyond and chose to begin its missions with a solid training background using the BRIDGE Curriculum – the world’s most comprehensive curriculum on elections using adult learning and training methodology. During the workshop, participants were also able to develop observation tools – questionnaires and to conduct a mapping exercise to identify potential areas for deployment of the observers. The observers were also selected, photographed to prepare for accreditation logistics and briefed generally on Sudan. A more detailed briefing is expected in Khartoum upon their arrival.
The four day workshop was sponsored by IGAD with support from its partners, who will also support its Observer Mission to Sudan.
The Sudan elections are unique. They are the first, since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 between the North and South of the country bringing to an end many years of armed conflict in the Sudan. They are also the first in almost 3 decades in which most of the voters especially in the South of Sudan will be voting for the very first time in their lives. This is an historic moment for Sudanese and for the Region and it is therefore important that IGAD will observe these elections. The elections will be for National President of the Republic of Sudan; President of South of Sudan; States Governors; National Assembly; States Assemblies and the Legislative Assembly of South of Sudan.
The following was the Facilitation Team:
The participants were incredibly committed, diligent and did a wonderful job. We were all very impressed by their unwavering commitment; especially because almost all of the participants were very senior and experienced representatives of their countries in their fields of expertise. Furthermore, they were able to resist the allure of the beautiful beaches of North Coast of Mombasa; sitting through all the sessions and fully participating without wavering. We recommend that IGAD develops its own Code of Conduct for its observers and perhaps also develop guidelines and principles for democratic elections for its member States. This will greatly strengthen IGAD’s plans for deeper involvement in elections observation and democratization processes in its member States.
We are very grateful to IGAD, especially Yufnalis Okubo and his team for their cooperation and for giving us this opportunity to work with them. Peter and Collins were as usual very committed, hard working and enthusiastic in their performance and I am greatly indebted to them.