Nigeriens headed to the ballot box on Sunday 21 February to choose a new president and members of parliament, in elections seen by many as a critical, being the second such polls since a coup d’Etat in February 2010.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported the organization of these elections through the Projet d’Appui au Cycle Électoral au Niger - PACEN (Niger Electoral Cycle Support Programme), as part of its broader governance assistance initiatives. This support extends to the local elections scheduled for later this year.
Funded by the governments of Japan, Luxembourg and Switzerland through a pooled multi-donor basket fund, the USD 6.3 million programme provides technical and financial support to electoral management and support institutions such as the National Independent Electoral Commission (Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante) and the High Council for Communication (Conseil Supérieur de la Communication) that promotes independent regulation of the media.
In advance of the poll, the electoral support project helped set up the Electoral Commission’s website and trained Electoral Commission members on the broader electoral process, including management of polling stations, how data is processed and conflict awareness.
Through the project, USD 1.5 million worth of electoral materials was purchased, including indelible and fast-drying ink, sealing wax and hallmark stamps. 40 computers were also delivered to the Biometric Electoral File Committee (Comité du Fichier Electoral Biométrique to speed up voter registration procedures and increase online dialogue with civil society, media organizations and political stakeholders.In addition to logistical support, PACEN worked to improve civic and voter education. An awareness-raising campaign kicked off in January, including using media outlets, to encourage women, youth, religious and traditional leaders to vote. A music clip featuring some of the country’s prominent musicians calling for free, transparent and inclusive polls was recorded in French and in the country’s main indigenous languages and disseminated nationwide.
A range of public servants also received training in electoral dispute management. Members of constitutional and regional courts, the State Council, the Supreme and the Superior Court were among the 65 judges and clerks who participated in a two-day workshop on the rules and procedures to follow should there be disagreements about the election process and results.
Candidates running for office and election management staff also participated in training by the High Council for Communication and PACEN on issues of media access within the electoral law. Over 1,000 copies of the training content were published with UNDP support and provided to the Council for further sensitization of stakeholders.