Election observation is considered a key element to organisation of credible, inclusive and participatory electoral processes. Over the past years, citizens' election observation, previously known as domestic election observation, has received growing attention.
Election observation undertaken by nonpartisan citizen organizations is likely to increase public confidence in the electoral process. It may deter irregularities and electoral manipulation, or expose such activities where they occur. Citizen observation also provides an avenue for popular participation on electoral matters beyond the act of casting a ballot. By identifying gaps in legal, managerial and technical framework and coming forth with recommendations for improvement, citizen observation can contribute to the strengthening of electoral integrity.
It is in this context that International IDEA is providing support to the Citizen Democracy Watch Seychelles (CDWS) in training citizen observers. The training, which takes place in the capital of Victoria from 3-7 November, aims first and foremost to ensure that short- and long-term CDWS observers are well equipped to observe the snap presidential election that will be organized over three days beginning on 3 December. The training also aims to prepare the CDWS for observing the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2016.
The five-day training will feature a number of issues to ensure the success of CDWS election observation efforts, including election observation methodology; roles and responsibilities of citizen observers; codes of conduct; international and regional instruments; establishment of citizens observation teams of observers; stakeholder relations; legal provisions; structure of the electoral administration; voter registration; political parties and campaign; dispute resolution; electoral participation and inclusiveness; media; election day procedures and tasks; observation techniques; data collection, analysis and reporting; security; interpersonal skills.
Moreover, the training will touch upon organizational issues concerning strategic planning for civil society organizations, project management and fundraising.
IDEA support to the CDWS forms an integral part of IDEA’s efforts to promote electoral reform in Africa. Election observation undertaken by neutral third parties is crucial to ensure that the legal framework governing elections are under continuous scrutiny. In the Seychelles, new laws were put in place after a protracted election reform debate following the 2011 elections. This creates a momentum for CDWS to scrutinize the implementation of the new laws as well as to provide recommendation on outstanding legal matters that ought to be addressed.