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IFES is Awarded USAID Grant to Promote Peaceful and Transparent 2010 Elections in Burundi


IFES has been awarded a USAID cooperative agreement for a 19-month $1 million program in Burundi. The project, “Promoting Peaceful and Transparent 2010 Elections in Burundi,” seeks to promote peaceful and transparent presidential, legislative and communal elections in 2010. These elections are seen by many in Burundi as a pivotal element in the country’s path to continuous peace.

Since the successful transition elections in 2005, Burundi has experienced a moment of relative calm. This calm was further reinforced by a power-sharing agreement that established a consensus government in November 2007. However, high tensions within and among the political parties in Burundi have underlain these political advancements. Over the past two years, these tensions have occasionally resulted in violence or political stalemate making it clear that the discord between factions, which produced decades of ethnic strife and a bloody civil war, still exists.

“Promoting Peaceful and Transparent 2010 Elections in Burundi” hopes to ensure that this window of opportunity for peace in Burundi is given a full chance by strengthening the capacity of the institutions that will play key roles in the upcoming presidential, legislative and local elections scheduled for June and July 2010 election: the Burundian electoral commission, the local media and Burundian civil society. Each of these three actors will play highly influential roles in determining the credibility, transparency and technical success of the upcoming election.

“Promoting Peaceful and Transparent 2010 Elections in Burundi” will be implement over the course of 19 months (June 2009 – January 2011), and consists of three principle components. One component will entail strengthening the Burundian electoral legal framework in an effort to ensure free and fair elections. A second component will involve building the professional capacities of electoral administrators in the Burundian National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) through targeted technical assistance to administrators and civic stakeholders. The third component of the program will seek to strengthen the electoral dispute resolution (EDR) systems and to promote access to unbiased media coverage, public awareness and active civic engagement in support of transparent and peaceful elections.

IFES has worked in Burundi since 1999, including working closely with the Burundi Independent Electoral Commission through the full transitional election cycle that began June 3, 2005 with communal elections, culminating in the September 2005 colline, or local, elections. Our last program, implemented from 2007-2008, involved providing technical assistance in Burundi to strengthen the country’s anti-corruption mechanisms. With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Rights, and La­bor (DRL), IFES provided targeted assistance and skills training to both state and non-state actors. IFES’ work with state actors included increasing the capacity of key anti-corruption institutions, such as the Ministry of Good Governance. IFES’ work with civil society included multiple-day training programs – such as “Cor­ruption Reporting and Investigation Techniques” – that fostered the monitoring duties of civic institutions. The results of IFES programming were impressive and immediate: within two months of an anti-laundering training, an Anti-Money Laundering Law was passed, reflecting a number of the principles and language presented at the workshop.