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NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

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Democratic development in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) faces a myriad of challenges, including a legacy of exploitation and conflict, lack of physical and communications infrastructure, extreme poverty and continuing pockets of insecurity. The country’s transition to an elected government in 2006  ushered in a new wave of optimism, and since then DRC has continued to develop democratic institutions.  However, confidence in democracy was undermined when over 1 million votes went missing in the 2011 elections.

Distracted by recurrent political crises, parties in DRC have not invested in long-term growth strategies, adopted modern organizing tools and practices or developed issue-based agendas that reflect citizen concerns. Party leaders often focus attention on delegitimizing one another and jockeying for state resources, instead of promoting the interests of the Congolese population. Despite their demographic dominance, women and young people are underserved by parties within which they often have restricted access to decision makers and play a marginalized role in political party life.

In 2015, DRC has announced a plan to hold overdue local and provincial elections.  However, many opposition and civil society groups fear that these polls will leave the Independent National Election Commission without the needed resources to organize the 2016 presidential elections on time.  Fears of President Kabila remaining in office beyond the end of his second term led to violent street protests in January.  Meanwhile, the election commission is preparing to conduct provincial polls in October.

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Current Programs

Tomikotisa

Since September 2013, NDI is implementing the Tomikotisa program, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  “Tomikotisa” is Lingala for “participation” or “engagement.”  The three-year program seeks to increase the managerial and organizational capacity, accountability, and responsiveness of Congolese political parties by modernizing internal party processes and increasing participation and  inclusion of marginalized groups, notably women and youth.  Six of the DRC’s leading political parties (three from the majority coalition and three from the opposition) receive technical assistance under the program.  Since the official launch of Tomikotisa in January 2014, the Institute has undertaken a baseline assessment of party strengths and weaknesses, implemented several capacity building initiatives with women and youth leagues, and used public opinion research to inform political parties of  public concerns.  At the request of political parties, the Institute continues to deliver assistance and to facilitate multi-party consensus-building on national priority issues among women and youth. As the DRC moves closer to the 2015 local and 2016 national elections, the Institute will provide election-related technical assistance to parties under the Tomikotisa program.

Enhancing Prospects for Candidate Debates

With funding from the Howard G. Buffet Foundation, the Institute is working with civic groups, political parties and media to enhance the likelihood that candidate debates will take place during the next election cycle and build the organizational capacity of debate conveners before the 2016 presidential election. This program is conducted in partnership with the Tomikotisa program. Specifically, this program promotes debate culture among political parties, civil society organizations and the media by encouraging  candidates to engage in issue-based debates with their political opponents. The program is engaging civic groups, political parties and media to further the emergence of a credible and trusted debate convener. The Institute has established a debate steering committee and is regularly meeting with candidates and organizers  to set the stage for pilot debates for the 2015 local elections.

Strengthening Women’s Capacity as Candidates for Local Elections

With funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), NDI is strengthening the capacity of Congolese women in political parties and local activists to compete as candidates in local elections through participation in a “campaign academy.”  Through the academy, NDI has trained potential women candidates on the analysis of their political environmental, ethics, resource mobilization and campaigning. The program includes building a core group of trainers who will conduct in-party  training for additional potential women candidates. NDI plans to distribute locally-adapted “issues primers” on education, health, markets, security, urbanism and leisure that the Institute developed in collaboration with the Kinshasa-based Réseau Gouvernance Economique et Démocratie (REGED) to help potential women candidates deepen their understanding of local issues.

Past Programs

Building Congolese Political Party Capacity to Respond to Citizens’ Needs

From February 2012 to March 2013, a NED-funded program helped political parties advance people-oriented policies and reestablish channels for dialogue with citizens. By working with political parties and using focus group research findings, NDI helped to foster peaceful dialogue and strengthened parties’ ability to develop and communicate policy positions through a combination of multiparty workshops, individualized technical assistance and public forums.

Facilitating Information Sharing Among Congolese Political and Civic Leaders on the United States Electoral Process

With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, NDI promoted broad-based discussions among Congolese political and civic leaders on elections and their impact on the DRC’s democratization process. NDI’s program convened participants for events that spotlighted three high-profile elements of the American presidential election – presidential debates, party conventions and election day balloting – with the aim of informing ongoing discussions on electoral reform.

Strengthening Political Party Competition in the 2011 Elections

In June 2011, NDI reopened its office in Kinshasa to conduct a political party strengthening program. Funded by the NED, the program aimed to help Congolese political parties compete in the 2011 elections by sharing best practices and strategies from successful campaigns. The Institute also supported opportunities for inter-party dialogue on the election process and helped to familiarize parties with the legal channels available for resolving election disputes nonviolently.

During the 2004 to 2007 election cycle, the Institute’s programming focused on preparing Congo’s new democratic institutions for the national and provincial elections and on reinforcing the development of those institutions in the post-election period. NDI’s assistance — financed by the NED, USAID and others — targeted four categories of political actors:

  • Political parties: NDI organized the Cadre de Concertation (dialogue platform), which assembled political parties and election officials in a neutral forum to discuss concerns on the 2006 electoral process. The Institute also trained poll-watchers to observe the 2005 referendum and 2006 election cycle, offered campaign trainings for candidates and sponsored national debates. After the election, NDI continued to provide parties with trainings on organization, recruitment, financing and communication and helped them form caucuses in the new legislature.

  • Domestic election monitoring organizations: NDI provided support to civil society organizations (CSOs) to identify, recruit, train and deploy more than 1,000 volunteers to monitor the 2006 electoral process across the DRC.

  • The National Assembly: Prior to the 2006 elections, NDI provided extensive support to the National Assembly to refine the draft constitution, write the electoral law and revise laws on political party financing and the status of the opposition. Following the elections, the Institute assisted the Committee on Political, Administrative and Judicial Affairs (PAJ) as its members continued to revise key laws. NDI also helped  the Economic and Finance Committee review the national budget. NDI established a legislative task force of local experts to answer the Assembly’s requests for support, and trained new party caucuses in strategic planning.

  • Women in the DRC learn to use iKNOW Politics, and online network for women.

    WomenIn the DRC, women  learned to use the  International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics (iKNOW Politics), an online network for women in politics. The Institute supported the development of a women’s legislative caucus to bring together members of the National Assembly promoting legislation of special concern to women and encouraging their participation in committees and party caucuses.

NDI’s efforts throughout the country were aided by its network of Democracy Resource Centers, maintained from 2004 through 2007 in the cities of Goma, Kikwit, Kinshasa, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and Mbuji-Mayi. The centers provided political parties and CSOs with access to information and logistical support to support effective participation in the political process and served as a much-needed neutral space for inter-party dialogue.

During the inter-Congolese dialogue in 2001 - 2002, NDI facilitated discussion and information-sharing among Congolese political groups that did not participate in the country’s civil war, helping them to play a constructive and meaningful role in the dialogue.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs or to receive our monthly updates via email, use our contact form or contact:

Grant Godfrey, senior program manager
Washington, D.C.

(+1) 202-728-5546
[email protected]

Resource
09/25/2014
Resource: Press Room
News and Views
11/23/2012 | The Washington Post
News and Views:
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Blog entry: NDI in the News
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Blog entry: NDI in the News
News and Views
08/26/2011 | Washington Post
News and Views:
Our Perspective
05/16/2011 | Barrie Freeman at CSIS
Our Perspective:
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Blog entry: NDI in the News
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12/01/2005
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Published Publication Title Author
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
06/28/2013 Press Release: Meeting of the West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) on the Status of Implementation of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance in West Africa
Press Release
West Africa Election Observers Network
04/26/2012 Reach Out To Us: Findings from Focus Groups with Young Men and Women in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Focus Group Report
Rebecca Feeley, Driss Choukri
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
Declaration
11/01/2011 Declaration on the elimination of sexual violence in DRC
Declaration
National Democratic Institute
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Manual|Handbook
Julie Ballington
05/16/2011 Election Preparations in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Speech
Barrie Freeman, National Democratic Institute
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
Report
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers
Manual|Handbook
05/01/2004 Legislative-Executive Communication on Poverty Reduction Strategies, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 1
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Parliamentary-Civic Collaboration for Monitoring Poverty Reduction Initiatives, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 2
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Legislative Public Outreach on Poverty Issues, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 3
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
06/28/2001 Le Role des Partis Politiques dans une Transition Démocratique, Kinshasa, République Démocratique du Congo, du 26 - 28 juin 2001
Report
National Democratic Institute
04/30/2001 Les lecons a tirer de la conférence nationale souveraine et ses implications pour le dialogue intercongolais
Report
Bureau d'Etudes, de Recherche et de Consulting International (BERCI)
09/01/1997 Democratic Republic of Congo Pre-Arrival Statement
Statement
National Democratic Institute
04/10/1997 Report of the Civil-Military Relations Assessment Mission, West & Central Africa, March 18-April 10, 1997
Report
National Democratic Institute
01/01/1997 Political Parties and the Transition To Democracy: A Primer in Democratic Party-Building for Leaders, Organizers and Activists
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
09/01/1996 Zaire: Joint Pre-Election Assessment Mission, September/October 1996
Statement
National Democratic Institute IFES