By Cécile Famerée, Programs Officer
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada has launched its Electoral Education and Inclusive Governance Program in the DRC (EEGIR, for its French acronym), which is funded by Global Affairs Canada and our donors. The program is implemented with the National Episcopal Conference of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (CENCO; see French website) through the Women’s Dynamic initiative (see French web page) of its Justice and Peace Commission (CJEP, for its French acronym). It aims to increase the inclusion of women and marginalised groups in political life in the DRC.
Women’s Dynamic teams have been deployed to all of the country’s ecclesial provinces (Kinshasa, Kisangani, Bukavu, Mbandaka, Kananga and Lubumbashi) to build trainers’ capacities. These trainers, drawn from diocese-level Women’s Dynamic “nuclei,” will in turn train local facilitators to conduct reflection sessions using pictorial charts to highlight key messages about:
- The functioning of the electoral process
- Rejecting the “buying of consciences,” i.e., resisting the purchase of one’s vote through various inducements
- The importance of women and marginalized groups participating in the election process as voters and candidates
- Building peaceful change that benefits ordinary citizens instead of the powerful
To reach all audiences, these messages are also disseminated countrywide though radio programs; TV and social media clips; and songs on the radio.
The DRC is facing a security crisis in the east, a widespread social crisis and a crisis of confidence in the electoral process because of numerous irregularities that were noted by the electoral observation mission of the Catholic and Protestant Churches (e.g., see CENCO’s French press release). It is in this context that the EEGIR program assumes significance, not only by raising mass awareness on the importance of peaceful participation in the elections, but also by deploying 3,000 poll observers across the country.
With just a few days left until polls begin on December 20, respect for citizens’ peaceful civic participation and the credibility of the electoral process are at stake. The acceptance of election results depends on it, as do the country’s stability and democratic trajectory.