ARUSHA, Tanzania (AA) – The European Union on Wednesday pledged 5 million euros to support electoral programs among East African Community (EAC) member states, starting with general elections in Burundi and Tanzania slated for later this year.
“The EU and EAC share the principles of democracy, respect for fundamental rights, and overall development, of which free, fair and peaceful elections are important milestones,” EU Ambassador Filiberto Sebregondi told The Anadolu Agency.
“Election observation is a vital component of the EU’s activities to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law worldwide,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, Sebregondi signed an agreement with EAC Secretary-General Richard Sezibera pledging 5 million euros to the Regional Electoral Support Program (RESP).
The RESP, which is financed by the European Development Fund, will go towards boosting the EAC’s capacity to follow up on elections in member states from 2015 to 2018.
“Election observation can contribute to strengthening democratic institutions, build public confidence in electoral processes, and help deter [electoral] fraud, intimidation and violence,” said Sebregondi.
“Through this project, the EU is partnering with the EAC Secretariat to achieve these common shared goals in the region” he added.
The EAC is a regional bloc comprising Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. It is devoted to promoting economic and political integration among member states.
Both Burundi and Tanzania are scheduled to hold general elections later this year.
Sezibera, for his part, reiterated the EAC’s commitment to holding free, fair and peaceful elections in the region.
“We will do whatever is in our power to enhance democratic governance and political integration in the EAC through free, fair, participatory and democratic elections,” he told AA.
“Support under this program is starting with Burundi and Tanzania, whose general election is set for 2015,” Sezibera explained.
In 2013, Kenya became the first EAC member state to hold general elections.
In 2014, Rwandans, too, held parliamentary polls, while Uganda is expected to hold its own general election next year.
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