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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.

Mali

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In 2013, Malians elected a new president and National Assembly. The elections were a significant milestone in the country’s transition back to democracy after a March 2012 coup d’état upended its democratic system, and the territorial occupation by Tuareg separatists and Islamic extremist groups destabilized its northern areas. The presidential election brought President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of the Rally for Mali (Rassemblement pour le Mali – RPM) party to office. The legislative elections gave RPM and its allies control of 78 percent of the seats in the National Assembly. The new government faces significant challenges as it pursues the political and electoral reforms needed to strengthen Mali’s democratic institutions, while restoring peace and security across the north. With close to 85 percent of the members of parliament (MPs) serving their first term, the Assembly has much to do to meet Malian citizens’ needs for a more transparent and responsive government.

Turnout in the 2013 elections reached a record high for Mali. Still, if political parties are to mobilize voters for anticipated April 2015 local elections, they must actively engage with their constituents around the country on issues that citizens care about. That women represent 9.5 percent (14 of 147) of MPs elected to the National Assembly in 2013—fewer than the 10.2 percent of women MPs in the outgoing assembly—is indicative of the barriers to political participation Malian women continue to face. The 2013 elections raised awareness among women and men alike that more must be done in advance of the local elections to enable qualified women to compete effectively as candidates for elected office.

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Supporting the Newly-Elected National Assembly

To enable the new National Assembly to advance reform measures, provide oversight of government actions and engage openly with constituents, NDI provides ongoing training and technical assistance to MPs and legislative staff. Soon after the new assembly was seated, NDI conducted an intensive orientation seminar to strengthen the understanding of the procedures and core functions of an effective democratic legislature. Ongoing training and assistance focuses on deepening MPs’ critical skills in national budget review, oversight and citizen outreach. The Institute’s tailored support to women MPs helps them to build the skills and confidence to pursue legislative priorities and take steps to reduce barriers to women MPs’ full participation in legislative decisions and actions.

Strengthening Political Parties

NDI is assisting political parties to become better attuned and responsive to citizens’ priorities and expectations. Prior to and following the 2013 elections, NDI organized local town hall meetings, creating an opportunity for citizens to express their views directly to national party representatives. At a series of roundtable discussions following the elections, party and civil society representatives exchanged lessons learned from the elections and made collective recommendations to government officials and electoral management bodies for reforming the electoral process. By facilitating ongoing multi-party policy discussions, NDI continues to advise party leaders on formulating party policies that reflect citizens’ input and speak to popular concerns. These dialogues provide a forum for the parties to develop cross-party initiatives to strengthen citizen confidence in political institutions and processes.

Supporting Women’s Participation in Political and Civic Life

The Institute works in a variety of ways to help women become effective political, civic and community leaders. Prior to the 2013 elections, NDI provided training in campaign skills and strategies to nearly a quarter of the women candidates running for election to the National Assembly. To promote more women candidates and more elected women in future elections, the Institute is supporting the efforts of a coalition of political party women leaders and the Malian Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Children, and Families to advance a draft quota law that requires political parties to ensure that 30 percent of their nominated candidates are women. This summer, NDI held a leadership academy for young women in political parties and civil society to support the emergence of a new generation of strong women leaders. Through skills- and confidence-building exercises and mentoring, the participants learned to become a force for change within their organizations. NDI hosts a women’s resource center in Bamako to provide women activists there with internet access; books and materials on democracy, leadership, and gender; and a space for meetings and activities. Through a gender analysis of the 2013 elections and focus group research on women’s political perspectives, priorities, and preferences, NDI has provided political party, civil society and government leaders with substantive analysis of the reality women face in their efforts to contribute to political and civic life. Both documents include recommendations for ways that the government, parties, and civil society can enable women’s increased participation in political and electoral processes, including instituting internal party gender quotas for women on party lists and collecting gender-disaggregated data on women’s participation in elections.

Supporting Local and National Reconciliation

As Mali endeavors to restore peace and security throughout its northern territories, NDI is working with national leaders and local communities to promote an inclusive reconciliation process that links national and local level efforts. NDI collaborates with the Peace and Security Network in the Economic Community of West African States (Réseau Paix et Sécurité des Femmes de l’Espace Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest), a national network of women in reconciliation, to support the efforts of local women leaders to facilitate public forums and organize activities that foster tolerance and dialogue within their communities. At the same time, NDI is engaging the leaders of the national level institutions responsible for peace and reconciliation. NDI helps the Bamako-based leaders to maintain an awareness of community level peace and reconciliation initiatives, and to deepen their understanding of local perspectives on the national reconciliation processes.

Supporting Transparent and Credible Elections

NDI has supported transparent, credible electoral processes in Mali since 1996. In 2013, NDI supported a domestic civil society organization, the Network to Support the Electoral Process in Mali (Réseau d'Appui au Processus Electoral au Mali) to field trained observers to both rounds of the presidential and legislative elections. The Institute prepared and equipped the major political parties to train 1,425 party pollwatchers for the 2013 legislative elections. NDI plans to assist domestic civil society groups and political party pollwatchers again to observe the local polls in 2015.

Funding

NDI's current programs in Mali are funded by the United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Commonwealth Office, and the Royal Danish Embassy. Recent funders have also included UN Women.

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Bamako, Mali
Badié Hima, resident director
bhima@ndi.org

Washington, D.C.
Lindsay Robinson, program officer
lrobinson@ndi.org

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Published Publication Title Author
10/03/2014 Identifying Barriers and Opportunities: Malian Women Share Their Views on Their Social, Civil and Political Roles
Report
National Democratic Institute
08/04/2014 NDI Mali Analyse Genre des Elections Legislatives 2013 au Mali National Democratic Institute
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
06/12/2013 West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) Field Guide Series
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
12/05/2012 Statement by Christopher Fomunyoh Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, “Addressing Developments in Mali: Restoring Democracy and Reclaiming the North.”
Statement
Christopher Fomunyoh, Ph.D.
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
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
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers
Manual|Handbook
06/08/2005 Bamako Declaration of the African Statesmen Initiative
Declaration
National Democratic Institute
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)
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-Executive Communication on Poverty Reduction Strategies, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 1
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
04/01/2004 Elections Législatives 2002 Au Mali, Guide Pratique, Des Délègues De Candidats Ou De Partis Politiques Dans Le Bureau De Vote
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
06/17/2002 Elections Legislatives 2002 Au Mali, Guide Pratique,
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
11/01/1999 Femmes et Politique au Mali
Report
National Democratic Institute
05/31/1997 Manuel de l'Observateur: Directives applicable
Manual|Handbook
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