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Election officials to undergo Commonwealth training to prevent conflicts

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London,  – Senior officials from a selected number of election management bodies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean will meet in Durban, South Africa, from 24 to 28 February 2014, to participate in a one week training to explore ways of preventing, managing and resolving election-related disputes.


The training programme organised by The Commonwealth, will be conducted jointly with the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), a South Africa-based civil society organisation working to bring creative solutions to the challenges posed by conflict.


“We must invest in the peaceful settlement of disputes, as the alternative has proven too costly,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.


Ms Nita Yawanarajah, Head of the Good Offices of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, said that election management bodies are critical in the electoral process and should be considered the first line of defence “to nip election-related disputes in the bud.”


“Election management bodies are at the heart of the electoral process, and their close interaction with almost all the key stakeholders—from voters to candidates, civil society and political party structures—make them key institutions with the potential to help prevent election related conflicts,” Ms Yawanarajah said.


The training will cover topics such as analysing election related disputes, current and future trends in conflict, the role of the media in the electoral process, negotiation and mediation principles skills building.


The training in Durban is part of a series of such events in the Commonwealth to build the capacity of key institutions at the national level to prevent and manage disputes themselves.


Mr Vasu Gounden, the Executive Director and founder of ACCORD said: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Commonwealth in conducting this training. The Commonwealth, with its long tradition as a trusted institution in mediation of conflicts and observing elections, is best placed to distil good practices. We believe this training will provide that opportunity for the participants.”

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