Experts from the East African Community (EAC) are meeting in Moshi, Tanzania, to conclude benchmarks for election observation and monitoring in the region.
The five-day meeting, which kicked off on Monday, has attracted members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and representatives from Partner States’ Electoral Commissions.
The group is led by the Chairperson of the Independent Election Commission of Burundi (CENI), Pierre Ndayicariye.
The first draft of the election observation and monitoring mechanism which was developed and passed by the EALA, is now receiving input from the various stakeholders in a participatory manner to enhance ownership.
“The mechanism will be a tool for political mutual accountability, adding to prudent democratization processes which are key for the transition of EAC towards a Political Federation,” EAC Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Beatrice Kiraso said.
The EAC official said that it is pertinent to develop common benchmarks that will be followed by EAC member states, adding that monitoring and evaluation is a deep concept that should allow the region to look beyond mere polling.
“This calls for analysis of issues of citizens’ rights, legitimacy of the process, level playing field and respect of fundamental human rights. And a whole range of issues in the political as well as legal contexts.”
The common standards to guide election monitoring and observation have been described by participants as a conflict-prevention tool.
They will also support the EAC Protocol on Good Governance whose first pillar is democracy and democratization processes.
The draft Protocol is now undergoing consultations at national level before it is finally adopted by the Council of Ministers.
Other participants at the meeting include officials from relevant ministries from the Partner States as well as the EAC Secretariat.
Experts from the UNDP- South Africa and the Carter Centre in the United States have also been invited to share experiences.