US$ 3 million urgently needed for Central African Republic electionsFeb 8, 2016
As Central Africans prepare to vote on 14 February, the United Nations is highlighting a US$3 million gap in financing for the second round of the presidential poll and two rounds of legislative elections.
The elections are part of the process to conclude a period of political transition that started in 2014. The upcoming February vote follows the cancellation by the Constitutional Court of Transition of the first round of legislative elections that took place on 30 December 2015.
“We are very close to concluding this very critical round of elections, and success here is another step for Central Africans towards recovering the ground lost in the conflict,” says UNDP Resident Representative and Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Aurélien Agbénonci in the capital Bangui. “We need to close the elections financing gap that would help ensure voting materials are pre-positioned, that the polling stations are well-equipped and secure, and that poll worked are paid.”
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the peacekeeping UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) have been supporting the elections management body, the National Elections Authority, to organize peaceful and credible elections.
UNDP’s 2014-2016 election support project has included managing a US$ 36.7 million pooled basket of donor funds, of which US$28 million was received. Contributors included the African Union, the European Union, the Republic of Congo, France, Italy, Japan, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the Kingdom of Morocco, UNDP, UN Women and the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
Through the basket fund, UNDP has procured voting materials, including 15,000 electoral kits, 12,000 ballot boxes, 12,000 voting booths, and 15,000 containers of indelible ink. 18,000 poll workers were trained and deployed to nearly 5,600 polling stations nationwide. Together with MINUSCA, UNDP supported the registration of 1,954,433 voters, including 945,128 women and 1,009,305 men.
Including the newly-scheduled February polls, the total financing budget for the elections is now US$39 million. Member countries of the regional body the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) - Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon - have pledged US$ 5 million. If these pledges are realized, the funding gap to finalise the election cycle remains US$3 million.
A three-year conflict in the country has seen thousands of people lose their lives, more than 500,000 people displaced, and an almost equal number become refugees in neighbouring countries. These elections are regarded as an opportunity to re-establish peace and social cohesion while also promoting economic and social development.