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June 9, 2023 (BISHOFTU, Ethiopia): In a bid to Strengthen Democracy, the IGAD Political Affairs Program of the Peace and Security Division conducted a workshop to promote Inclusive and Credible Elections.

The recently concluded IGAD – UN Joint Workshop held in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, brought together key stakeholders from the IGAD Member States Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to share experiences and good practices in inclusive and credible elections. The workshop was also attended by Officials from the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa, East Africa Community (EAC), and International IDEA. With a focus on enhancing the integrity and credibility of electoral processes, the workshop aimed to foster collaboration, strengthen capacities, and promote democratic values within the region. It is worth noting that out of the 25 attendees, 11 were women, reflecting the commitment to gender equality and inclusivity in electoral processes.

The workshop provided a platform for IGAD member states to discuss various aspects of electoral processes. Participants explored ways to enhance the independence and inclusivity of election management bodies, electoral reforms, and electoral justice. The importance of strengthening the capacities of EMBs and fostering collaboration with political parties and stakeholders during the pre-election period was emphasized. The workshop also focused on preventing and mitigating violence around elections and promoting the active participation of women, youth, persons with disabilities, and minorities in electoral and political processes.

One of the key objectives of the workshop was to facilitate networking and collaboration between EMBs within the IGAD region and partners outside the region, including continental platforms. By creating strong networks, EMBs can exchange knowledge, share best practices, and learn from one another’s experiences. This collaborative approach helps foster a culture of learning and continuous improvement, ultimately leading to more transparent, inclusive, and credible elections across the region. The workshop provided a valuable opportunity for participants to establish connections and explore avenues for future cooperation.

The workshop also provided a platform for participants to exchange views and share experiences with the United Nations Election Assistance Division (UN EAD), African Union (AU), East African Community (EAC), and other international and regional organizations. Participants gained valuable insights into global best practices by discussing the latest electoral trends, challenges, and potential responses. They have exchanged views, among others, on improving the inclusivity of women, youth, and marginalized groups, including IDPs, in the electoral process, the role and effective use of ICT in elections, and preventing and mitigating electoral violence. The exchange of ideas and experiences is believed to strengthen the collective efforts toward achieving inclusive and credible elections.

The workshop contributed to strengthening democratic governance, the rule of law, and human rights within the region. The commitment and dedication demonstrated by participants reaffirm the collective effort to ensure inclusive, peaceful, and credible elections in the IGAD region. Moving forward, it is essential to continue these collaborative initiatives, monitor progress, and build upon the outcomes of this workshop to advance the democratic aspirations of IGAD member states and their citizens. Finally, the delegates agreed that a regional platform for EMBs should be developed – a network that could foster collaboration and coordination among IGAD MSs EMBs.

The workshop was opened by the remarks of Hon. Siraj Fegessa, Director of IGAD PSD, and closing remarks were delivered by H.E. Hanna Tetteh, UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa.

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