On April 15, 2013 EISA Chad held a focus groups discussion meeting with the CENI, one of its key partners in the country under the Africa Democracy Strengthening (ADS) II programme in order to draw lessons for its own institutional learning and partners.
In a country like Chad which is plagued by intractable violence and political instability, citizen election observer groups act as impartial witnesses to help prevent conflict. Well trained, professional and non partisan citizen observers ensure transparency and increase the credibility of future elections.
EISA assists civil society organisations in Chad with planning, coordinating and deploying election observer missions. The organisation also provides training for long and short term citizen observers all over the country. Helping build sustainable election observer networks and coalitions is an important aspect of EISA’s support so that increasingly, these groups develop a common approach to election observation, resource sharing and mutual support in carrying out their activities. A similar programme was developed for training party poll-watchers in poll watching.
This is the first programme of its kind to be undertaken in this region of the continent. Here, the capacity of civil society organisations is still weak, particularly around involvement in the electoral process. EISA is laying the ground for a long term intervention strategy. It aims to build local capacity and address the most pressing needs for assistance from countries without a long tradition of competitive elections.
In keeping with EISA’s Strategic Goal 2 that “citizens participate effectively in the democratic process” since opening the office in Chad, EISA has partnered civil society organisations in building their capacity to recruit, train and deploy citizen observers. During the past year EISA released a handbook, with a foreword by the CENI Chairperson, providing useful information on the legal framework for the local elections. The handbook also presented the role and main functions of Chad’s urban and rural municipalities. Various stakeholders received the handbook, including the CENI, political parties and CSOs. It was very helpful to the CENI as it contained a thorough explanation of the electoral system used for these local elections. Political parties used it, not only as a campaigning manual, but also as a guide for their newly elected officials. Civil Society Organisations used it as an observation manual to follow the campaign and the seat allocation in the municipal councils.
To broaden the scope of information and experience for local citizen observer groups, EISA Chad facilitated a workshop on international election observation in N’djamena from 21st to 22nd September 2012. The workshop was attended by citizen observers from local CSOs, a representative of the Electoral Commission (CENI) and political parties. Participants to the workshop were exposed to the basic tenets of the rationale and methodology of international election observation, an analysis of trends in election observation and shared best international
practices and strengthened capacity of CSOs working in the field of elections in Chad, political parties and the electoral commission.
Since working with local citizen observer groups, a key achievement of EISA’s support was the production of a comprehensive and high quality observer mission report by the Coalition Indépendante pour des Elections Libres (CIEL), one of the coalitions of local CSOs.
EISA embarked on regional consultations in order to assist a wide range of electoral stakeholders to draw conclusions over the now ending Chad electoral cycle. The overall goal of these consultations was to unravel the challenges facing Chad in respect of election management and propose appropriate reform measures. These consultations provided a space for the main stakeholders to reflect critically on the legal and institutional framework for elections in Chad as well as identify areas of the electoral system that pose problems and need
improvement; and to provide recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms
A post-election review was organised by EISA on 28-30 June 2011 in N’Djamena, providing the opportunity for CSOs to review the challenges they faced in election observation, share experiences and draw lessons from their assessment of the National Assembly and presidential elections as well as identify best practices for future election observation activities.
The workshop gathered over 60 delegates representing 36 organisations that observed the National Assembly and the presidential elections. The workshop provided the space for various CSOs that observed the elections to interact with each other, with electoral and administrative authorities as well as with political parties and agree on recommendations for improving election observation activities in the country in the future.
EISA used the opportunity of the 13 February National Assembly elections to conduct refresher training activities for party poll-watchers involved in poll watching on election day. Prior to the training, a training handbook on poll watching [PDF] was developed containing detailed information on recruiting, training, deploying poll-watchers as well as providing guidelines on how they should report their polling day observations. Using this training handbook, a one day training session was conducted for 166 trainers, including 29 women, from 70 parties from the majority party and the opposition parties in N’Djamena, the capital city where most parties are headquartered and in Abeché, in the eastern region, a location that was not covered before by EISA’s capacity building activities for political parties. The training workshops offered an invaluable opportunity for participants from different parties to share ideas on the role of political parties in safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process and agree on harmonised data collection and reporting on poll watching.
An umbrella network, the Mission d’Observation Electorale de la Société Civile Tchadienne (MOE-SCT) was established with EISA’s support which deployed 300 long-term observers during the 13th February 2011 National Assembly and the 25th April 2011 presidential elections. Besides the Training of Trainers Handbook on Election Observation [PDF] that was reprinted for use during the training sessions before the presidential poll, two additional manuals were developed and distributed to CSOs involved in election observation: a handbook on the role and responsibilities of observers [PDF] followed by the observers’ code of conduct, and the Election Observer Mission’s Planning Handbook [PDF].
CSO knowledge on the basic tenets of the rationale and methodology of election observation was acquired, shared and applied by observers during their deployment. These learnings informed the deployment of observers to the April presidential elections where corrective measures were taken. These included recruiting and training new observers, dismissing those involved in partisan activities, drafting new deployment plans and providing for better systems to centralise observers’ reporting forms and check lists. With EISA’s support, the electoral process was accessed in a credible and non-partisan manner by the CSOs network and comprehensive and high quality observer mission’s statements and reports were produced.
EISA supported the establishment of a civil society organisations network. This was a consultative process engaging local CSOs on the nature and structure of the network, and criteria for membership of the network. While the network’s immediate objective was to put in place a citizen election observation mission, as well as a voter education programme, a broader long-term goal to ensure sustainability of the network was agreed and included a broader democracy and civic education programme. Besides facilitating the establishment of a sustainable network of domestic observers, EISA achieved the following in its support to civil society in Chad:
A training manual [PDF] on poll watching was developed, providing political parties with detailed information on recruiting, training and deploying poll-watchers as well as guidelines on how party poll-watchers should report their polling day observations.
EISA assisted CSOs in Chad with planning and co-ordinating their observations and subsequently deploying election observer missions. The Institute also provided training for long and short-term domestic observers throughout the country. Increasingly CSO groups developed a common approach to election observation, resource sharing and mutual support in carrying out their activities. EISA undertook the following activities in 2009: