European Commission On 25 October, the Commission granted € 9.5 million to support the electoral process in the Central African Republic. Commissioner Piebalgs commented: «The support of the EU to the electoral process will allow this country to honour its commitments to democratic consolidation. Presidential and legislative elections which are well prepared, free and credible constitute an essential condition for the peace building process in the Central African Republic.»
The presidential and legislative elections in the Central African Republic will take place on 23 January and 20 March 2011.
The European Commission is pleased that the members of the Independent Electoral Commission have signed an agreement on the timetable and encourages all of the signatories to pursue the preparations in a consensual spirit. These will be the second free and democratic elections in the Central African Republic since constitutional order was restored in 2005.
The support will be financed under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) which is the main EU financial instrument for development aid and under which a € 4 million contribution had originally been allocated. The EU’s decision to increase its contributions to a final total of € 9.5 million testifies to the depth of its commitment to reinforcing democracy in the Central African Republic. This will make the European Commission the biggest donor to the electoral process in the country. More than 95% of the EU’s funds will be transferred to a basket fund set up by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist the preparation of elections, whose budget was estimated to be around € 15 million.
The specific objectives are:
- contribute to ensuring that the presidential and legislative elections of 2011 run as smoothly as possible in the conditions of security, freedom, inclusion and transparency required by the Constitution and the Electoral Code;
- provide the electoral equipment needed for drawing up electoral rolls, organising polling and processing results;
- inform the whole population about electoral matters and promote civil and political rights in general.
The European Commission also supports other initiatives linked to the elections, such as projects to strengthen the media.
The cooperation between the European Union and the Central African Republic has been indicatively allocated € 137 million under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) for the period 2008 – 2013. Its aim is to support the efforts of the Central African Republic government to reduce poverty, primarily through concentration on the two sectors of:
- Democratic governance and restoring basic security and social services (€ 72.5 million );
- Infrastructure and improved accessibility (€ 19.5 million).
This allocation is complemented by € 34 million of budget support and € 11 million of technical assistance and environmental projects. In addition to the EDF, the Central African Republic benefits from other funds from the EU budget, such as those for emergencies.
The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and continues to suffer from the consequences of several years of political instability and insecurity, which damaged the country’s infrastructure, socio-economic situation and administrative structures. The country is known as an “aid orphan” due to its small number of donors and classified as 179th out of 182 countries in the Human Development Index. The EU is the largest development partner of the CAR.
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