Friday, October 24, 2008

(DAILY MAIL) EU cautions donors over poll

COMMENT - Is not commenting on the legitimacy of elections before they have been held a courtesy the EU only extends to it's 'friends', or are they learning from their mistakes in Zimbabwe?

EU cautions donors over poll

THE European Union (EU) says it will be wrong for any donor to comment on Zambia’s possibility of having a free and fair Presidential election before the October 30 poll takes place.

EU delegation leader Derek Fee said in Lusaka yesterday that all concerned parties should wait until the outcome of the poll before stating their positions.

Dr Fee was answering questions from journalists at a media briefing held in Lusaka yesterday during the signing and launch of the EU’s contribution agreement for the October 30 presidential election.

At the same function Norwegian ambassador to Zambia Tore Gjos said donors did not want to be influenced into issuing statements by what politicians were saying.

Meanwhile, cooperating partners have launched a response to an urgent electoral assistance request by the Zambian government for the conduct of next week’s poll.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) resident coordinator Macleod Nyirongo said the response was a practical step by Finland, Japan, Norway, Sweden, United States of America, EU and the UNDP to promote development of democracy in Zambia.

Dr Nyirongo said the high-level policy dialogue would continue as the Electoral Commission of Zambia collated lessons learnt from the election.

Dr Nyirongo said elections were a first and critical step for the observance of the rule of law.

He said the success of elections was dependant on legitimacy, efficiency, and effectiveness of institutional frameworks.

Dr Nyirongo said promoting democracy was a critical commitment world leaders undertook during the global summit that adopted the Millennium Development Goals.

“The contribution agreements to the 2008 Presidential Election Trust Fund we have signed today are aimed at providing short term support to critical areas in the conduct of the 2008 presidential election in Zambia,” he said.

Dr Nyirongo said the critical areas of support included voter education, training of electoral officers and procurement of critical electoral materials, training of conflict resolution committees and collating lessons learnt.

Dr Nyirongo hoped both the Zambian government and the Electoral Commission of Zambia had benefited from having a coordinated cooperating partner response.

Norway has contributed US$2.5 million, Sweden (US$ 2.1 million), Japan (US$1.2 million), while Finland and the EU have contributed US$250, 000 and US$1.5 million respectively.

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