The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), a regional bloc composed of eight countries in East Africa, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Democratic Institute on Friday, October 13. The new agreement fortifies the existing relationship between the two organizations and will enhance joint efforts to consolidate democratic practices in the IGAD member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
IGAD Executive Secretary Ambassador Mahboub Maalim, and Director of the IGAD Center of Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (ICEPCVE) Dr. Simon Nyambura, joined NDI President Kenneth Wollack and NDI staff to discuss the political realities of the IGAD region. The meeting explored opportunities for collaboration on electoral issues, peace and security concerns, and capacity-building initiatives with parliamentarians, civil society actors and non-governmental organizations.
Citing the intervention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the 2016/17 Gambian constitutional crisis as an example, Mr. Wollack said that the bold actions of “regional institutions rejecting notions of non-interference in member states,” by upholding democratic charters and norms, has helped to strengthen confidence in democratic processes and constitutional rule.
Amb. Maalim noted the importance of the convening authority of IGAD, which allows the regional bloc to build cooperation among states, civil society organizations, national and regional institutions and development partners. This authority will be particularly important in supporting efforts to reduce violent extremism through IGAD’s recently established ICEPCVE. Established in 2016, the ICEPCVE facilitates coordination among state and non-state actors to develop and implement inclusive and holistic strategies to build resilience against violent extremism in the Horn and Eastern Africa. The Center aims to “move towards a common understanding of the drivers of extremism and to contribute to the reduction in violent extremism” across the region.
NDI and IGAD are committed to working together to mitigate challenges and threats to the democratic development of the IGAD member states. Through the MoU, Amb. Maalim and Mr. Wollack agreed upon practical aspects of collaboration and made commitments to develop regional initiatives to promote openness and accountability in government by building political and civic organizations, safeguarding elections, and promoting citizen participation.
NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. Since 2013, NDI has actively worked within the IGAD region to promote women’s political participation, focusing on programs that empower women parliamentarians and caucuses in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. NDI also continues to support the Women Parliamentary Association (WPA) in the IGAD region, a coalition of legislators from women's parliamentary caucuses that aims to promote the economic, cultural, political and social development of women as a means of ensuring sustainable peace and security in the region. More information is available at www.ndi.org/sub-saharan-africa.