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Brussels, 25 October 2010

The European Union support to Central African Republic electoral process

Why does the European Commission support democratic processes in partner countries?

The European Union believes that democracy and human rights are universal values that should be promoted around the world. They are part of effective work on poverty alleviation and conflict prevention and resolution, in addition to being valuable bulwarks against terrorism. There cannot be long term development when laws and rights are not ensured. Having come into force on 1 January 2007, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is the concrete expression of the EU's intention to integrate the promotion of democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide.

Genuine elections are an essential basis for sustainable development and a functioning democracy. The European Union believes that actions supporting the right to participate in genuine elections can make a major contribution to peace, security and conflict prevention. Support takes the form of electoral assistance projects and EU election observation missions.

How does the European Commission support democratic process in partner countries?

The European Commission promotes the democratisation process in partner countries through three main instruments:

  • political dialogue: to encourage partner governments to integrate democracy and human rights into their development plans and identify opportunities for EC assistance to contribute to those objectives;

  • mainstreaming democratic values in all Commission's development instruments: such principles as political participation, representation, accountability, transparency and equality are integrated in the planning, design, implementation, and monitoring of policies and programmes. Moreover, in the formulation of other policies, any negative effect on democratisation must always be avoided;

  • specific financial and technical assistance programmes, focusing on four key areas: promoting fair, free and transparent electoral processes; strengthening the institutional and organisational capacities of parliaments; promoting an independent and professional media; and encouraging pluralistic political systems.

Why does the European Commission support the electoral process in the Central African Republic?

The holding of free and transparent presidential and legislative elections every five years is one of the conditions stipulated in the conclusions of the Inclusive Political Dialogue which took place in Bangui in December 2008, following the comprehensive peace agreement signed in Libreville in June 2008. The Inclusive Political Dialogue confirmed the commitment of the six groups of stakeholders dedicated to consolidating peace and promoting stability in the Central African Republic: the presidential majority in the national assembly, the democratic opposition parties, other political parties, civil society, the civil service and politico-military movements.

Peace-building, security and poverty reduction are central to the cooperation between the European Union and the Central African Republic. The EU, together with EU Member States and the international community, is actively following and supporting this process.

The presidential and legislative elections scheduled to take place on 23 January 2011 (first round) and 20 March 2011 (second round) will be the second free and democratic elections in the Central African Republic since constitutional order was restored in 2005.

How will the support project to the electoral process in the CAR be implemented and monitored?

More than 95% of the EU funds (€ 9.1 million) will be transferred to a basket fund set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the preparation of elections in the Central African Republic, whose budget was estimated to be around € 15 million. The remaining amount will go to direct technical assistance to the Independent Electoral Commission (€ 300 000) and for audit, evaluation and contingencies (€100 000).

The UNDP basket fund approach is appropriate to electoral support as elections in fragile situations require moral, material and financial backing from the international community, as well as coordinated action.

The basket fund aims to contribute to ensuring that the presidential and legislative elections of 2011 run as smoothly as possible in the conditions of security, freedom, inclusion and transparency required by the Constitution and the Electoral Code. This will be done by:

  • providing necessary technical and logistical support to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), including on electoral security planning;

  • providing the electoral equipment needed for drawing up electoral rolls, organising polling and processing results;

  • informing the whole population – and women in particular - about electoral matters and promoting civil and political rights in general;

  • ensuring the durability of the lessons learned for future electoral cycles and for democratic consolidation.

The project is not only aimed at supporting the 2011 elections, but is part of a wider approach of electoral cycles and sustainable democratic consolidation. The activities involved are those of strengthening national capacities and national appropriation. In this sense, the preparatory activities and post-electoral follow up are as important as the elections themselves.

What is EU assistance to the Central African Republic?

EU allocated €137 million to Central Africa Republic under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2008 - 2013. The aim of the EU's cooperation with Central African Republic is to support the efforts of the CAR government to reduce poverty, primarily through concentration on the two sectors of:

  • Democratic governance and restoring basic security and social services (€72.5 million);

  • Infrastructure and improved accessibility (€19.5 million).

This allocation is complemented by €34 million of budget support and €11 million of technical assistance and environmental projects.

In addition to the EDF, the Central African Republic benefits from other funds from the EU budget which complement the EDF country strategy, such as those for emergencies. In this particular case, the Non-State Actors and Local Authorities in Development programme under the Development Co-operation Instrument (DCI) supports initiatives of civil society to strengthen the media in the pre-electoral period.

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and continues to suffer from the consequences of several years of political instability and insecurity, which damaged the country's infrastructure, socio-economic situation and administrative structures. The Central African Republic is known as an "aid orphan" due to its small number of donors and is classified as 179th out of 182 countries in the Human Development Index. The EU is the largest development partner of the Central African Republic.

Other examples of EU financed projects on capacity building for democracy:

Empowering the electoral participation of women in Bangladesh

Supporting freedom of speech in Sudan: restoring hope and building democracy for lasting peace

Strengthening Dialogue between Non-State Actors, Administration and the International Community in Somalia

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