Supporting Transparent and Credible Elections
In July 2011, NDI launched a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded program to help local civil society organizations monitor key aspects of the anticipated 2012 electoral process, including revision of the voter list and holding of presidential and legislative polls. At the program’s outset, NDI and its partners, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Internews, conducted a thorough assessment of the pre-election environment through interviews with political parties, government, electoral management bodies, civil society organizations, and local women and youth associations.
Beginning in August 2011, NDI provided technical and financial assistance to enable its civil society partner, Support to Mali’s Electoral Process (Appui au Processus Electoral au Mali – APEM), to monitor the public review period of the 2012 voter rolls, and prepare to observe election day proceedings for the presidential and legislative polls. Between October and December 2011, APEM deployed 50 regional supervisors to observe the voter list revision at the communal level in each of Mali’s eight regions and the capital of Bamako. In its final pre-election observation statement issued Jan. 31, 2012, APEM reported that, despite some irregularities, the process proceeded smoothly and in compliance with Mali’s electoral law.
NDI also helped APEM revise its election monitoring strategy to release its findings in a more timely, systematic and reliable manner. In February 2012, NDI helped APEM organize a conference on best practices in election monitoring, and on integrating new technologies into such efforts. Immediately following the conference, APEM hosted a three-day meeting of the West African Election Observation Network (WAEON), a network of domestic monitoring groups from 11 West African countries. Through its participation in the WAEON event, APEM was able to incorporate regional best practices and lessons learned into its 2012 monitoring plan, and to refine its observation strategy and tools. NDI organized a training-of-trainers workshop for 51 APEM master trainers to help them execute the updated observation plan and conduct trainings for 1,000 domestic observers in the upcoming months.
NDI launched the political party strengthening component of its USAID program in January 2012. NDI worked with Malian parties to monitor the electoral process and to mobilize broad, peaceful participation in the elections. Through a four-step process in February and March, NDI helped parties review the 2007 code of conduct that spells out accepted norms and behaviors to which party members should adhere during the campaign and election period, and incorporate lessons learned from the application of this code into the 2012 version of the document. In a March 20, 2012, ceremony that was widely covered by local media outlets, 43 parties and two independent candidates signed the document and spoke about the importance of all actors’ adherence to its contents. Fifty-five parties, including each of the 13 parties with current parliamentary representation, participated in activities leading up to the signing of the code of conduct. As a result of inter-party dialogue sessions facilitated by NDI, 22 parties produced a list of 12 joint recommendations for Malian election management bodies (EMBs) to pursue to ensure credible, participatory and inclusive elections.
Between the March coup and December 2012, NDI suspended its USAID-funded program activities to comply with U.S. government policy on its assistance programs in Mali. In mid-December 2012, USAID authorized NDI to resume program activities. NDI is currently consulting with its political and civic partners to re-orient its program to best address the country’s priorities within the dramatically altered political and electoral context.
Supporting Women’s Political Participation
Malian women face significant barriers to full political participation and disproportionately bear the brunt of the country’s interwoven political, security and humanitarian crises, further undermining women’s opportunity and ability to participate in Mali’s transition process as political and civic leaders, voters and candidates for public office. Women MPs currently represent 10 percent of the National Assembly and 10 percent of the new government established by Prime Minister Cissoko. In December 2011, the legislature voted unanimously in favor of a revised family code that failed to advance women’s rights, deeply disappointing women’s rights activists both domestically and abroad.
NDI is implementing a 30-month program funded by the Royal Danish Embassy to promote Malian women’s participation in public life. The program builds on the success of NDI’s earlier programs aimed at promoting women’s participation in the 2009 local elections, which witnessed a 20 percent increase in the number of elected women councilors. Through its current program, NDI supports elected women at both the local and national levels, as well as women candidates who ran for office in 2009 but were not elected. The program has already supported elected women councilors in 113 localities (communes) located in eight administrative territorial units (cercles) across southern Mali, and producing a local councilor’s manual and helped participants organize a town hall meeting with constituents.
NDI facilitated a self-assessment exercise with leaders of 30 political parties in late 2010. Participants reviewed and analyzed their party’s successes and shortcomings in attracting and supporting women party members and candidates. Following the exercise, NDI brought together party representatives to share and discuss what they learned from their assessment. The Institute followed this up with a strategic planning exercise for male and female legislators to promote diversity in decision-making, and conducted a two-day orientation and training session on development and budgeting with women’s needs in mind in the Koulikoro region, in the Southwest part of the country.
NDI established a partnership with Mali’s Union of Free Radios and Televisions (URTEL) and collaborated with the NGO Centre Afrika Obota-Mali (CAO-Mali) to develop skits portraying women leaders’ perspectives on the environmental implications of mining in Mali and on the opportunities and challenges that economic growth holds for women. These broadcasts were the first in a series of television and radio programs designed to highlight women’s leadership on issues of national importance. NDI also produced a reference manual to guide women councilors in representing the interests of their constituents.
NDI held public forums in three regions of Mali during the first half of 2011, where women participants presented policy challenges of both national and local importance. The forums enabled participants to better position themselves to participate in local development planning and policy-making, and to build their constituent outreach and public speaking skills. NDI again worked with URTEL to broadcast these events on 20 local radio stations, reaching an estimated 1.7 million listeners. The Institute also held a series of trainings for women councilors on advancing gender equality and local development planning, as well as round-table discussions with women who ran unsuccessfully for office in 2007 and 2009.
NDI then organized a series of seven round table discussions with local women councilors, their constituents and civil society organizations in eight localities around the country to discuss priority issues, including public health and education service delivery, women’s access to economic opportunities, and barriers to women’s political participation.
Between the coup and September 2012, NDI temporarily suspended its Danish Embassy-funded program activities in Mali. In October 2012, NDI resumed the program, revising its activities to focus on enhancing the role of women in the transition process. NDI is now working to help the National Assembly integrate gender into transition legislation, by ensuring that both male and female legislators draft legislation that take women’s concerns and needs into account. The Institute is also providing technical and financial assistance to a local women’s group to advocate for the active civic and political participation of women in the lead-up to Mali’s anticipated 2013 national elections.
Strengthening Mali's National Assembly
In December 2010, NDI began a program aimed at bettering the National Assembly’s ability to fight corruption, communicate with the general public, conduct and use legislative research, and increase women’s participation. NDI’s program was part of a broader, five-year program supported by the Royal Danish Embassy, the United Nations Development Programme and the Belgian Development Cooperation, aimed at strengthening the national legislature. To improve the assembly’s ability to communicate with the public, NDI partnered with a local technology firm to reactivate, update and develop a strategy for the ongoing maintenance of the National Assembly’s website. During the April-August 2011 legislative session, the Institute organized a series of targeted activities on legislative analysis and budgeting, and the use of the national budget as a means by which to monitor public spending and curb executive power.
The program was temporarily placed on hold following the March 2012 coup, but will resume in 2013 with a focus on strengthening the ability of Malian legislators to contribute to inclusive and consultative transition and electoral processes.
NDI’s current programs are funded by USAID and the Embassy of Denmark. Previous programs have been funded by USAID, UNDP, NED, UNDP, the Embassy of Denmark and the Embassy of Canada.
For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:
Badié Hima, resident director
Lindsay Robinson, program officer