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IFES Monitors Adjudication of Complaints
During the first and second round of elections, complaints presented to the CEC were referred to the Prosecutor's office for adjudication. The cases were then referred to the districts in which they occurred for investigation. IFES monitored the status of the cases through correspondence with the prosecutor's office, and worked with the liaison to the American Bar Association to obtain legislation governing election violations. IFES has so far not been able to receive clear information on the status of these complaints.
IFES Technical Assessment Yields Compact Disks on Protocol Data
Based on the IFES technical assessment of the electoral process in February, the protocols of all precincts were archived as an image file. A set of compact disks (CDS) were created which contained all scanned protocols of the elections. The Armentel communications firm is able to produce multiple copies of the disks for distribution to those concerned.
National Assembly By-election Scheduled for 31 May
IFES provided early planning support to the CEC for the election scheduled for 31 May to fill the vacant National Assembly seat in District #3 in Yerevan. IFES assisted the CEC by providing training to the precinct election commission and in providing election manuals and copies of the law.
Discussions Resume on the Universal Electoral Code
Following the Presidential elections, the Committee on State and Legal Issues, under Chairman Arthur Baghdasarian, resumed discussion and consideration of the Universal Electoral Code (UEC). Three drafts remained under discussion. Each was scheduled for review, with recommendations to follow after discussion. The Committee requested legal assistance from IFES/Yerevan concerning these drafts. Antonia Dolar, IFES Legal Advisor is scheduled to work in Yerevan with the Committee in May; she will participate in hearings of the drafts and compare the issues of each.
On 15 April, the National Assembly started hearings on the Universal Electoral Code drafts. One draft will be discussed during each of the National Assembly's upcoming sessions. The first discussion focused on the draft of former chairman of the Committee on State and Legal Issues, Viguen Khachatrian, with the second session focused on that of another former State and Legal Issues committee Chairman, Edward Yegorian. The third draft, that written by the Armenian Communist Party will be discussed in May.
IFES continued to monitor the adjudication of complaints resulting from the Presidential election. Interest in the resolution of the outstanding cases indicates that Western democracies and international organizations expect assurance that due process is applied to all election cases and that timely and fair resolution in addressing each complaint is important in the democratic process.
The completion of the scanned protocols of election results from both the first and second rounds contributed to increasing the transparency of the elections. IFES recommended that this action be integrated into the election process, and supported it by supplying two computers and a scanner. The utility of the archived records was demonstrated by the American Embassy's use of the scanned information in verifying the results of several precincts.
The importance of passing the Universal Electoral Code was reinforced to the Committee on State and Legal Issues through IFES' work. IFES continued to encourage the CEC to complete the electoral calendar for the by-elections, and assisted the CEC in organizing a PEC workshop and supplied copies of the Manual for Precinct Election Members and the Electoral Law.
Electoral Legislation Considered
Oliy Majilis adopted into the election law a package of anti-corruption legislative measures which bars individuals from holding office who have a criminal record or have been detained for administrative sanctions. IFES Central Asia Regional Project Manager Tom Leckinger, working together with the US Embassy and USAID, prepared a briefing paper for use by Ambassador Elizabeth Jones and Senator Sam Brownback in meetings which took place during the Senator's recent visit to Almaty and Akmola. The paper, which addresses key points of concern in the new legislation, has been passed on to Kazakhstani legislators in hope that the measures might be reconsidered.
IFES representatives Tom Leckinger, Saule Buldekbaeva, and Marat Bigaliev met with the legal staff of both houses of the Oliy Majilis, as well as with several deputies to offer assistance in analyzing the potential impact of the new changes in the electoral code. Both the legal staff and members of the Oliy Majilis indicated that they would welcome such assistance, and it was agreed that IFES would provide examples of anti-corruption legislation as a part of electoral codes in other countries for use in re-examining the law.
IFES Curriculum Development Specialist Dorrit K. Marks met with a series of representatives from the Department of Education, and local and international NGOs working in the area of civic education. In mid-April, she was invited to speak at the SOROS Foundation-sponsored «Roundtable on Innovation in Teaching Political Science.» Marks addressed an audience of university political science professors from different regions of Kazakhstan on issues of civic education, the «culture of democracy,» individual rights, popular sovereignty, political participation, and civil society. IFES provided materials describing possible interactive class activities related to identifying issues of interest to youth and adults, an in-depth analysis of issues leading to the development of a public policy action plan, and an analysis of civic values.
IFES/Akmola Project Coordinator Marat Bigaliev attended a meeting between USAID's Office of Democratic Transition and the SOROS Foundation to plan possible cooperative initiatives in curriculum development for Kazakhstan. Participants included USAID's Greg Koldys, Eileen Wickstrom, and Igor Tupisyn, and the SOROS Foundation's Peter McDermott, David Landis, Saule Kalikova, and Sholpan Yeskalieva. SOROS invited USAID and IFES to attend the Fourth SOROS Critical Thinking Training Seminar in May in order to provide more information to teacher trainers concerning civic and voter education.
Meetings in Akmola
IFES representatives Tom Leckinger, Dorrit Marks, Marat Bigaliev, and Saule Buldekbaeva held meetings in Akmola to discuss IFES' curriculum development project. The IFES team met with Krimbek Kusherbaev, Minister of Culture, Education, and Health; Umirbek Joldasbekov, Chair of the Majilis Committee on Social and Cultural Development; and Adil Akhmetov, Head of the Department of Education, to discuss the implementation and impact of the IFES curriculum development project. Mr. Joldasbekov expressed great interest in the project, and mentioned that the Government of Kazakhstan believes that there is need for a new education law as some articles of the current legislation are contradictory. The Ministry of Culture, Education, and Health discussed presenting a new law for discussion in the Oliy Majilis in late May 1998.
Mr. Joldasbekov invited the IFES team to attend a morning session of the Oliy Majilis, where he would be presiding over an Education Committee hearing. At the Parliamentary session, Majilis Speaker Marat Osponov discussed the President's mandate that by September 1998 all children attend school, while Minister Kusherbaev presented the status of secondary education and the mandates required by President Nursultan Nazarbayev by 2030. The issue of education has come into sharp focus in Kazakhstan, where basic problems include low attendance levels, closing of village schools, low teacher salaries, and large class sizes.
IFES' curriculum development project, which includes preparation of a Kazakhstan-specific civics textbook and course outline targeted at high-school age students and above, received high endorsement from the Minister of Culture, Education, and Health, with whom IFES plans to work on the project. Together with the Head of the Department of Education, the Ministry and IFES have set as the next goal the production of a draft textbook using local sources and international expertise which will then be approved by the Ministry in cooperation with the Central Election Commission. The partnership established between IFES and the Ministry of Culture, Education, and Health represents an important step in the long process of integrating a comprehensive democracy curriculum in schools for the future electorate of Kazakhstan.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
IFES President Richard Soudriette received an invitation from Central Election Commission Chairman Sulayman Imanbayev to attend a conference entitled, «The Improvement of the Election System of the Kyrgyz Republic,» to be held in Bishkek from 4-5 June. The event is being organized by the CEC to discuss changes to the Kyrgyz election law and electoral system. Invitees include members of the Jogorku Kenesh, the President's and Prime Minister's apparat, the Constitutional and Supreme Courts, the Ministry of Justice, the Electoral Law Working Group, and local government officials. IFES has been providing logistical and administrative support for the conference through the efforts of Project Coordinator Galina Sergunina of the IFES/Bishkek office.
The fourth version of the draft Kyrgyz election law has been released, and IFES/Bishkek has secured a copy and translated it into English. IFES Legal Consultant John Christman is currently preparing an analysis of the draft for use by the Electoral Law Working Group prior to the law's submission to the President and Jogorku Kenesh for ratification. The CEC is taking a methodical approach to revising the law, and it seems certain that a version of the current draft will be adopted by the end of the year.
IFES has been invited to participate and discuss court adjudication of election law grievances at an ABA/CEELI-sponsored regional conference for the judiciary to take place in Cholpan Ata in late June 1998. Participants will include judges from all levels of courts in each of the Central Asian republics, as well as other legal professionals. IFES representatives are planning to attend.
Forum at Central Asia Institute
IFES Program Officer Anthony Bowyer and Legal Analyst John Christman joined Gulnara Iskakova, an independent consultant to the Central Election Commission of Kyrgyzstan, at a Central Asia Institute-sponsored forum titled «The Emergence of New Electoral Laws in Central Asia: The Foundation for Active Party Politics?» Dr. S. Frederick Starr moderated the discussion, which focused on the impact that new and proposed electoral legislative changes could have on the conducting of elections across Central Asia, and where each country currently stands in terms of their respective election codes and progress towards systemic electoral reform.
Iskakova, who worked on the first and second drafts of the proposed electoral code for Kyrgyzstan, outlined the challenges faced by both candidates and election administrators in an emerging democracy, citing recent presidential and parliamentary elections as an example. Christman, who has worked on behalf of IFES with the CEC of Kyrgyzstan on analyzing all four election law drafts and has participated in election law reviews in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, highlighted the major issues pertinent to electoral reform in each of the three countries and offered the proposed changes to the Kyrgyz election law as a possible example to be followed and emulated by other countries in the region.
Bowyer delivered a similar analysis of the electoral legislative issues in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. In discussing Tajikistan, Bowyer placed particular emphasis on the work of the Committee on National Reconciliation, including implementation of the Peace Accords, which affects the timing of future parliamentary elections, mandated in the Accords to take place no later than December 1998. A brief discussion of the new Turkmen election laws ensued as related to recent elections to the Halk Maslikhat.
Participant questions ranged from the role played by local tradition in affecting voting practices, the distinction between each country's electoral system, and the role elections can play in a post-conflict environment. While there remains work to be done, the point was made by the IFES representatives and Ms. Iskakova that electoral reform is occurring region-wide with an eye on the next round of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for 1999-2000. IFES continues to pursue election law reform initiatives with the Central Election Commissions of Central Asia through round table discussions, focus groups, and on-sight consultant liaison missions.
Constitutional Development Assistance
IFES Legal Consultant Jack Martin continues to assist the Committee on National Reconciliation (CNR) on constitutional development issues, despite the increased political uncertainty in the country. In a follow-up to discussion started in Warsaw, a Working Group comprised of international organizations has been formed with representatives from IFES, ABA, OSCE/ODIHR, UN, Aga Khan, and USAID to coordinate electoral assistance initiatives. IFES has committed itself to undertake projects geared specifically toward constitutional and electoral reform, professionalization and administrative training for election officials, and voter education. IFES will help coordinate project in these three sectors with its international implementing partners, with a focus on the forthcoming elections to the Majlisi Oli.
Martin met with Tojiniso Azizova, Head of the President's Legal Department, who advised IFES that the CNR had completed a draft Law on Public Associations and Political Parties, adding that both laws will be considered by the Majlisi Oli at the current session. Azizova had been unable to attend the IFES-sponsored Working Seminar on Constitutional Development, but was highly interested in the handouts that had been provided. As one of the drafters of the 1992 and 1994 Constitutions, she noted that the Government of Tajikistan had previously received limited international assistance and greatly appreciated the efforts currently underway by IFES and other in the international community.
Central Election Commission Codified
At the request of Chairman Anvar Sadullaev of the Secretariat for Elections to the Oliy Majlis, IFES researched the establishment of independent election commissions through legislation or constitutional amendments around the world. There have been discussions in the Oliy Majlis concerning the degree of independence to be accorded the CEC vis-a-vis the Oliy Majlis. Sadullaev asked for information to support his position that the CEC should be more of an independent entity in decisions regarding electoral matters. The Oliy Majlis met in late April and adopted the law codifying the CEC as an institution, leaving Sadullaev as Chairman of the Commission until the next session of Parliament. IFES Project Coordinator Elena Volf is in the process of securing a copy of the law as adopted.
Through Project Coordinator in the IFES/Tashkent office and Regional Project Manager, IFES has served as a resource of information for the CEC in the development of electoral commissions. Working together with its partners at the OSCE/ODIHR, IFES has served as an information clearinghouse for election issues in Uzbekistan, beginning with election law regulations and comparative standards of election administration at the federal level. It is anticipated that past recommendations made by IFES consultants will form the basis of an election law roundtable discussion to take place this summer in Tashkent.
Association of Asian Election Authorities
Participants of the Founding Conference for the Association of Asian Election Authorities (AAEA) established the new Association by ratifying the organization's Charter at the second annual gathering organized by IFES in early February in Manila, Philippines. The February Conference included election commissioners, civic leaders, academics, technical and topical expert lecturers, and international development specialists from more than 21 Asian countries and territories.
As stated in the approved Charter, the AAEA's mission is to provide «...a nonpartisan forum in the Asian region for the exchange of information among election authorities to discuss and act upon ways to promote open and transparent elections with the objective of supporting good governance and democracy.» The AAEA will also encourage citizen participation in the electoral process, information sharing, and the development of resources for election-related information and research.
New Charter Members
Nine members have signed on as charter members of the AAEA as of 31 March. Additional members are expected to sign prior to the deadline for charter membership. In addition to election officials from South and East Asia, the founding Charter group included three election authorities from the Central Asia region -Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan - interested in integrating more closely with their Asian counterparts and supporting cross-regional information sharing initiatives. Other initial signatories include election commissions from Mongolia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka.
AAEA Administration & Planning
The Honorable Bishnu Pratap Shah, Chief Election Commissioner of Nepal, was chosen by acclamation as Chairman of the Executive Board and General Assembly. After voting on key officers, the AAEA's General Assembly requested that IFES serve as the Association's interim Secretariat until it is decided where the Secretariat will be housed. An indication of the interest in this important undertaking was the expressed willingness of several election commissions to host the Secretariat. The Assembly also set out activities to be undertaken by the membership. Upcoming activities will include developing an Asian-based election resource center, conducting election observation missions and staff exchanges, distributing election-related materials, and arranging for professional development opportunities. The Vice Chairman of the Cambodian Election Commission, realizing the important role international observers can play in increasing the transparency of elections, requested that the AAEA observe the upcoming national elections in Cambodia. This offer is now being seriously considered.
Voter Information and Media
With election day - 11 May - quickly approaching, IFES continued working with the Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to produce the final voter education and information spots for radio, television, and print media. The spots, which deal with issues such as balloting, voting requirements, and vote counting procedures, began being aired in April and spots on the counting process will continue for at least a week after the election. Because certifying a national election can be a lengthy process in the Philippines, it is especially important that voters are aware of the safeguards in the counting and consolidation process which are designed to prevent fraud.
One of the spots, which deals with vote counting procedures, will be approximately five minutes in length. The information contained in this spot guides the voter through the counting process from the moment polls are closed until the final count has been announced. Highlighted in the spot are the various measures of accountability which have been built into the system. This information is intended to help voters understand that ballots are secure at every step throughout the process. COMELEC and IFES hope that this information will help prevent some of the allegations of fraud, which normally are made while citizens await the final election results.
Media Advisor Hank Valentine negotiated between the Philippine Broadcasters Association (KBP), radio and TV owners, and COMELEC to obtain free air time for the voter information spots and a series of one-hour broadcasts. The first of the one-hour television shows which feature COMELEC Commissioners and senior staff has been taped. The majority of the shows, which have call-in capability, will air the week before the election. Based on the success of the voter information program thus far, COMELEC is trying to convince the Office of the President to release another 15 million pesos for the production of additional post-election spots and TV programs.
IFES also assisted COMELEC to develop and disseminate information about the party list system, which is being introduced for the first time in this election. A total of 6,000 party list brochures have been distributed through a wide network of civic groups. In addition, a full-page information advertisement on the party list appeared in all national newspapers. The Philippines Information Agency distributed 1.45 million party list brochures written in English and four Filipino dialects. The Agency also distributed 1.4 million flyers on prohibited election acts.
In conjunction with KBP and COMELEC, IFES facilitated two programs to train media representatives on the electoral process in Davao and Cebu. Approximately 25 media representatives and journalists attended each session. Positive press reports about the electoral process resulted from these sessions. IFES began negotiations for an election period media center, intended to centralize press operations and interviews. This center will also be the main location from which official news and information about the election will be released.
COMELEC Web Site
Hank Valentine, in coordination with COMELEC, selected an Internet provider and web page designer for the official COMELEC web site. The site, comelec.gov.ph, provides official news and information about the election process including major election results.
During the month of April, IFES assisted COMELEC in finalizing training manuals and job aids for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Project Director Gwenn Hofmann trained 120 election officers in Cotabato and Marawi City. Those election officers in turn will train all their Board of Election Inspectors on election day processes and procedures. IFES also developed a model for fact sheets and issues for COMELEC regional directors to use for voter information activities in their communities.
The International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides election-related technical assistance, observation activities, civic and voter programs, and support for civil society development in emerging and established democracies. IFES activities are made possible, in part, by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
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