NDI’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funded program in the DRC aims to help political parties to advance people-oriented policies and reestablish channels for dialogue with citizens. By working with political parties and using recent focus group research findings, NDI’s political party program seeks to foster peaceful dialogue and strengthen parties’ ability to develop and communicate policy positions through a combination of multiparty workshops, individualized technical assistance and public forums.
With funding from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, NDI is also fostering discussion among Congolese political and civic leaders on elections and their impact on the DRC’s democratization process. NDI’s program convenes participants for events that spotlight 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.
NDI reopened its office in Kinshasa in June 2011 to conduct a political party strengthening program. Funded by the NED, it 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 without resorting to violence.
In August 2011, NDI launched a focus group research project with funding from Humanity United. Focus groups held in six regions of the country provided insight into citizen expectations of the next Congolese government. The Institute presented the principal findings of the study in a report “Reach Out to Us,” offering elected officials reliable information for policymaking. In a country where communication channels from citizens to politicians are often lacking or dysfunctional, this information transmitted the perceptions of ordinary Congolese citizens to their new leaders.
During the 2004 - 2007 election cycle in the DRC, the Institute’s programming focused on preparing Congo’s young 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, which assembled political parties and election officials in a neutral forum to discuss concerns in the 2006 electoral process. The Institute also trained pollwatchers to observe the 2005 referendum and 2006 election cycle, offered campaign skills training 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, and to the Economic and Finance Committee in its review of 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: 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 foster their 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.
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