After several delays, the Central African Republic (CAR) held presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 23, 2011. Incumbent Francois Bozizé won with 64 percent of the vote. Opposition parties chose to boycott the second round of legislative polls after the ruling Kwa Na Kwa (KNK) coalition won 25 seats in the first round, compared to one opposition victory. As a consequence, the KNK and allied independent candidates won the remaining seats. The CAR now has a legislature with no meaningful opposition, labeled a “one-color assembly” by the local media.
Opposition parties have formed a coalition calling for all the 2011 elections to be re-run.
NDI began a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded citizen engagement program in August 2011. The program aims to increase civil society’s promotion of dialogue on governance and development priorities and to advocate for the implementation of the CAR’s ongoing decentralization process.
Since the start of the program, NDI and the National Elections Observatory (ONE), a coalition of more than 50 civil society organizations, have worked with government ministries, the High Commissioner for Decentralization and Regionalization, local radio stations and international partners. A local governance workshop, aimed at building ONE members’ and leaders’ understanding of decentralization issues facing the CAR, took place in October, and radio-based civic education programs are currently being produced and aired.
Through this program, ONE will educate more citizens on decentralization. Plans for locally-driven development created by community leaders, with NDI and ONE’s assistance, will be shared with policymakers and the wider public. Lastly, NDI will assist ONE with developing an advocacy strategy for decentralization.
From January to March 2011, with NDI’s help, 500 domestic observers from ONE monitored elections in 14 of the CAR’s prefectures and in Bangui during the first round. For the runoff, 304 domestic observers monitored the vote in seven prefectures and in Bangui.
During the election period, the Institute also:
- Collaborated with Radio Ndeke Luka to produce voter education sketches and programs broadcast on the radio in French and in Sango; Built ONE’s organizational and technical ability to monitor the electoral process;
- Supported its regional partner, the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa , in the organization of two regional election observation missions during the Jan. 23 and March 27 elections and with the publication of reports summarizing findings and recommendations for the process; and
- Organized a post-election roundtable on lessons learned from the 2011 election cycle and to develop recommendations for the major electoral stakeholders.
As a result of these activities, citizen understanding of civic and electoral processes and participation in the process increased. ONE also emerged as the most effective election observation network in the country’s history.
NDI's current program in the CAR is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Central African Republic
Arsène Gbaguidi, Resident Country Director
Grant Godfrey, Program Manager