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15th int’l symposium on electoral affairs kicks off

By Camille Dupire - Dec 05,2017 - Last updated at Dec 05,2017

Participants at the 15th International Electoral Affairs Symposium pose for a group photo at the Dead Sea on Monday (Photo by Camille Dupire)

DEAD SEA — The 15th International Electoral Affairs Symposium kicked off on Monday at the Dead Sea, gathering participants from more than 35 countries to discuss best practices in the electoral field and share expertise to develop innovative strategies to be implemented in their respective countries and regions.

Organised by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in collaboration with the European Centre for Electoral Support (ECES) and the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies, the event brought regional and international representatives from the electoral democracy community and election management bodies (EMBs).

“In spite of the many challenges Jordan has faced over the years, and the wave of discouragement some may have felt, we remain hopeful and we keep working for a better tomorrow,” said IEC Chairman Khalid Al Kalaldeh.

Delivering the opening ceremony’s keynote address, Kalaldeh said: “We are today racing against time to make Jordan, the region, and the world as a whole, a more equal and just place. I know our people carry with them the spirit to positively affect change in the future.”

Stressing the importance of the inclusion of youth and women in the reform process, he emphasised “Political elites should follow people, not the other way around.”

The chairman’s remarks echoed those of ECES President Monica Frassoni who stressed the importance of an inclusive and participative civil society in the democratic process.

For his part, US Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Jim Barnhart said: “We are proud to be working with our Jordanian partners in this game- changing journey that seeks to increase transparency, accountability, participation and inclusivity in the democratic process, in line with His Majesty King Abdullah’s roadmap for change.”

Providing support to Jordan’s reform process through the “EU Support to Jordanian Democratic Institutions and Development” project, funded by the EU and the Kingdom of Spain, ECES has been working in close partnership with the IEC and local communities, according to its website.

On Monday, several panel discussions were held, covering issues of regional cooperation in democratic governance, the role of training and development of EMBs to promote democracy and build trust among voters and engagement strategies for young and first time voters, among others.

A special session by electoral expert Mohamed Mansour later focused on the threats posed by fake news, outlining various strategic steps to counter them particularly during the electoral process.

On Tuesday, experts will discuss the use of technology in elections and the role of social media as well as the challenges of electoral violence, with the participation of noted speakers from Nigeria, Pakistan, Ireland, Australia, the EU, Burkina Faso, Colombia, among others.

Workshops will also be conducted by IEC and ECES representatives, offering the participants an insight into the best practices in the electoral process.

The two-day event will conclude with the International Electoral Awards Ceremony, which will recognise the work of the international electoral community by honouring their significant contribution to the democratic process at an international level, according to the organisers.

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