Election Support in the Central African Republic
Country: Central African Republic
Project Title: “Election Support in the Central African Republic”
Period of Performance: October 1, 2014 – March, 31 2015
Since the country’s independence in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has witnessed severe political unrest, violent coups d’état, and most recently a civil war that culminated in the Séléka invasion of Bangui in March 2013. A rapid degradation of the security situation ensued as fighting between the largely Muslim Séléka militia and the newly emerged anti-Balaka (or “anti-machete,” a Christian militia initially created to resist Séléka) gave way to overtly inter-religious strife. While the security and humanitarian situations have improved, incidents of violence and human rights abuses continue to be reported with regularity, and the country remains highly unstable and characterized by an almost complete lack of state presence outside the capital.
Following the coup d’état, an 18-month transitional period, overseen by a 105 member transitional council and culminating in elections, was announced. Despite some promising developments, the original February/March 2015 deadline for elections has already been pushed back to later in 2015 on the grounds that donor funding for the elections has failed to materialize. Despite this, serious doubt remains as to whether or not elections will be held on time. Budgetary and security constraints continue to delay preparations for elections, and the National Authority for Elections (ANE) still lacks the capacity to organize elections, calling into question the feasibility of holding elections in 2015.
IFES Technical Assistance
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is currently implementing the Elections Support in the Central African Republic (ESCAR) program, which aims to assist the electoral process in CAR by providing targeted, rapid-response technical support to CAR’s electoral institutions, notably the ANE, with the goal of strengthening the country’s electoral framework and building the credibility of the 2015 elections. The two main objectives of the ESCAR program are to: 1) strengthen CAR’s legal framework for elections in advance of planned 2015 elections; and 2) enhance the ANE’s capability to plan and implement credible elections under a tight timeline and difficult operational conditions with targeted technical assistance.
In order to achieve these objectives, IFES has adopted an approach centered on deploying highly-qualified technical specialists to work directly with the ANE and key CAR officials to provide timely support based on specific identified needs. Thus far, IFES has deployed one Electoral Law Expert to leverage IFES’ “Desk Analysis of the 2013 Code Électoral – Central African Republic” in order to support the Government of CAR in addressing legal issues that may derail the electoral process, and one Voter Registration Advisor to work with the ANE to develop an operational plan to systematically guide decision-making throughout the voter registration process. Additional experts will continue to be fielded based on needs identified over the course of the program.