Elections and Political Processes Program in Burundi
Project Title: “Elections and Political Processes Program in Burundi”
Period of Performance: April, 4 2013 – December, 31 2015
Burundi is scheduled to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, amid a political climate marked by a sense of polarization that has endured since the local election in 2010, when the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) won by a wide margin, and opposition parties boycotted the four elections that followed. The situation has since deteriorated, as political space has shrunk; opposition parties have become marginalized; and the nation’s previously active press and civil society organizations have suffered from increasing government interference in, or prohibitions of, their activities. Tensions are being further exacerbated, however, by incumbent President Nkurunziza’s bid to run for a third term, and reports that party youth have received combat training are raising fears that incidents of electoral violence will feature prominently in the 2015 electoral cycle.
IFES Technical Assistance
In April, 2013, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) began work with the aim of fostering dialogue among stakeholders to develop a conducive environment and legal framework for genuinely competitive elections. To this end, IFES provides technical assistance to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) to improve election management and increase transparency; promotes civic and voter education to advance citizen understanding of, and peaceful participation in, the electoral process; and supports the creation of an Early Warning/Early Response (EWER) system that is founded upon the USHAHIDI platform. This work is being accomplished through:
- Timely and targeted technical support and capacity building for the CENI, including institutional capacity building and memory retention support and trainings for sub-national election officials
- Inclusive civic and voter education campaigns that are led by local civil society organization (CSOs) partners and incorporate the boîte à images methodology
- Electoral violence monitoring trainings for civil society
- Conflict mediation and prevention mechanisms facilitated by community leaders
This program was originally scheduled to conclude on October 3, 2014. An extension was granted, however, to enable IFES to play a constructive role throughout the 2015 presidential election. Prior to this extension, IFES’ efforts in promoting dialogue among long-estranged political stakeholders culminated in the establishment of platforms such as the Séminaire-atelier sur l'Environnement propice aux Elections de 2015, during which highly sensitive topics such as electoral dispute resolution (EDR) and political parties’ codes of conduct were openly discussed. Following this critical reunion, IFES organized two workshops to train the CENI and CSOs respectively on EDR mechanisms, as EDR was identified as a key weakness in the previous electoral cycle.