EAC pushes to promote free, fair elections
THE East African Community (EAC) has reminded election monitoring bodies and media organisations in partner states to use its treaty in line with their respective countries’ legal frameworks when managing and covering elections to maintain free and fair polls.
The regional bloc has principles for election observation and evaluation based on among others, its treaty. The principles are based on international standards, Union Charter on Human Peoples’ Rights and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
The regional body made the statement during a three-day capacity building workshop for election monitoring bodies and other stakeholders to assess fairness of the political space and campaign playing field through media monitoring.
Funded by the European Union (EU), the workshop is expected to equip stakeholders with full knowledge and skill in using media to get a firsthand and at glance assessment information in regard to political space and campaign playing field fairness.
“Use the treaty as reference in the course of making the elections free and fair in the region,” EAC’s Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Mr Charles Njoroge, said yesterday.
He pointed out that the media plays an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy, and within an electoral context, the media is expected to play a transparency “watchdog” role.
“If the media’s role is vital in the normal course of events, exceptional periods such as elections can put its impartiality and objectivity to harsh test,” he argued.
Mr Gerard Guedegbe, media training expert based in Benin, emphasized that during the elections the media has the duty to play as watchdog to assess activities of the electoral bodies.
He also touched on the party manifestos, noting that media ought to educate the public on the content of those documents during campaign through giving the candidates a platform to debate.
Contributing to the discussion, Director of Political, Defence and Security Department, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Mr Stephen Mbundi, commented that in order to achieve sustainable way of improving the elections management and coverage the electoral bodies Adhere to national health policy, should partner with the media.