Officials tackle election challenges

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene 19 October 2017, 12:00AM

A week-long workshop to support the Election Management Bodies is being held at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel this week. 

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Head of Asia, Caribbean, Pacific, Leulua’iali’i Albert Mariner, said the purpose of the event is to support the Election Management Bodies in delivering creditable, inclusive and transparent election by providing professional development and networking opportunities to commonwealth electoral officials.

“Outcomes from this event will be presented by Faimalomatumua at the next biennial conference of the Commonwealth Electoral Commissioners to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka next year,” said Leulua’ialii.

“The main objective of the initiative is how do we keep improving our national electoral processes and how do we get our people to have confidence in our election and participate actively.”

“The issues that the representatives of the Election Management Bodies have highlighted are five critical issues that they want to discuss and learn from each other and how they deal with it and address it.”

“Another issue of critical importance is perhaps the role of the media in particular social media platforms, Facebook.”

“The use of technology is another critical element and this is considered by E.M.B’s throughout the Commonwealth.”

“So use the opportunity to exchange information on related electoral trend and reality in the Pacific.”

“We should also recognize that strengthening democracy in the country’s development should not be the sole responsibility of the National Government.”

“Everyone has a role to play, political parties, media, private sectors and C.S.O’s.”

“We intend to continue playing an active role and supporting democracy in the Pacific member state.”

Another common issue is logistics.

“The most common issues differ, depending on the national context, for example we just had a team of observers in Papua New Guinea and one the biggest challenge there is logistics,” he said.

“Papua New Guinea, being a big wide country, was very difficult for the Commission to get the resources to prepare in advance.”

“Other micro E.M.B. will have different challenges but for them just to share their experiences on what works and what didn’t work for us and how can we do it better.”

Asked what they are hoping to get from the event, he said: “The hope is that we will be able to identify some of the issues that these E.M.B.’s would like support in and what are the opportunities for other E.M.B.’s to provide that support and also for the Commonwealth Secretariat, through its own technical assistance programme, we are willing to look at some of these requests if there are any for further support,” he said.

“We also recognize that a lot of these countries have their own bilateral partners and through that bilateral programme they do access some of the technical support.”

“We as a Commonwealth facilitate and hopefully some of the issues that will be discussed there and some of the outcomes will be a catalyst for this E.M.P’s to access either programme support from their bilateral partners or from the Commonwealth Secretariat.”

“We also work closely with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the U.N. and the participants that are in providing similar support.”

The meeting ends tomorrow.

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene 19 October 2017, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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