The country of Mali has come a long way since the military coup of March 2012 which troubled what had been referred to as the “West African beacon of democracy”. With successful presidential elections followed by parliamentary elections in 2013, the timing is now perfect for lessons learned and strategic planning for the years to come.
From March 31 through April 3, 2014, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) made the headlines with a great second BRIDGE training on political finance held in the historic city of Sikasso, in southern Mali. As part of a larger technical assistance program funded by USAID, IFES is one of the very few international organizations currently providing direct capacity building services to Malian electoral management bodies.
Participants to the training included members of the three electoral management bodies, namely the Malian National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), the National Electoral Directorate (DGE) and the Ministry of Territorial Administration. Representatives from the UNDP, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), The UN mission to Mali (MINUSMA), the African Union Sahel Mission (MISAHEL), local journalists, local officials from the Sikasso region and political parties also took active part in the training activities and discussions.
“This is the best training IFES has ever organized in Mali” one could hear on the last day of the workshop. With limited political finance regulation in the country, this workshop served as a platform for constructive debates, analysis of the current state of political finance regulation in Mali, case studies from all over the world and the design of a strategic plan to address the shortcomings of political finance regulation in Mali.
Debates throughout the training certainly sparked a lot of interest and ideas among Malian stakeholders. Africable Television, one of the major TV channels on the African continent decided, towards the end of the training, that the discussions and debates this training triggered could not stop there. The TV channel decided to open a regular televised debate on political finance, while involving other countries of the continent.
The workshop was welcome with great enthusiasm and saw the participation of the Governor of the Sikasso region who made us the honor of opening and closing the training which was facilitated by Mr. Sidi Diawara, IFES Country Director in Mali and Workshop facilitator, as well as Kamissa Camara, Expert Facilitator and international consultant.