Election Management Bodies (EMBs) in Africa have been advised to collaborate strongly with the media to ensure that electoral processes become sources of stability and launchpads for accelerated development on the continent.
The Special Advisor on EMBs for African Union Commission, Dr Kelechi Akubueze, who gave the advice, expressed worry that for the past three decades elections and democratic transition had been the major sources of instability, mayhem and displacement of people both at home and abroad, and that this situation, which had painted Africa as a dark continent, must be halted.
He was speaking at the opening of a week’s intensive training workshop for journalists and election managers from 25 countries at the plush Radisson Blu Hotel in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.
The training was organised by Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE), under the auspices of African Union (AU), International Institute for Democracy and Election Assistance, with funding from the Australian government.
BRIDGE is a modular professional development programme with a particular focus on electoral processes. It represents a unique initiative where five leading organisations in the democracy and governance field have jointly committed to developing, implementing and maintaining the most comprehensive curriculum and workshop package available, designed to be used as a tool within a broader capacity development framework.
Dr Akubueze explained that Africa’s rich natural resources and excellent human wealth must be tapped for the development and progress of the majority of its innocent citizens, who were wallowing in abject poverty and that one of the ways to ensure these resources benefited the people was to hold free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.
He noted that it was to forestall these unfortunate happenings in Africa that the AU, in collaboration with other stakeholders was building the capacity of EMBs and the media to adequately educate the populace to appreciate the urgent need to own the electoral process and guide them to a successful end.
In the past two years, AU and BRIDGE have trained over 40 election management staff who have been accredited full-time BRIDGE members in six countries. These BRIDGE accredited personnel are ambassadors in the various countries.
The Head of the International IDEA Office to the African Union, Dr Muna A. Abdallah, said the democratic process that was sweeping through the continent demanded that all the EMBs positioned themselves to deliver free, fair and transparent elections to ensure that the people enjoyed accelerated development.
She said it was incumbent on the media to ensure a level playing field for all shades of political parties to share their aspirations with the people so that the electorate from an informed position would be able to select candidates of their choice and also be in a better position to demand accountability from their leaders.
By Donald Ato Dapatem/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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