Nouakchott — The Mauritanian government is training officials to ensure that the upcoming national elections are open and free from corruption.
Ahead of the next parliamentary and presidential elections, Mauritanian authorities are looking to improve transparency and accuracy.
The National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) on February 13th concluded a four-day training programme for thirty officials from the committee and addressed several topics directly related to the electoral process. The training was organised in partnership with the International Foundation of Electoral Systems.
Topics included international concepts for democratic elections, legal and institutional context, the conduct of elections, election campaigns, voting and the electoral code, electoral disputes and electoral management, AMI reported.
Some observers considered the move as an important step toward reassuring political parties who often question the performance of the committee and express fears of rigging results, journalist Mohamed Ould Mustafa said.
"We believe that this course was very necessary because the commission as a technical institution needs this kind of training in order to properly perform its functions, especially as it is still in the stage of growth," Party for Unity and Development Chairman Sidi Ould Ahmed Mawloud said.
Ould Ahmed Mawloud requested funders to provide more support to the committee in order to keep pace with the coming electoral process and build capacity to oversee the elections.
He noted that there was a previous training focused on individuals who were poised to directly supervise the electoral process.
"The organisation of a technical session relevant to prepare for the elections will greatly benefit this committee especially since its members do not have a background in this field," media figure Mohamed Salem Ould Cheikh agreed.
"This will give them familiarity and knowledge of the domain that they are working in and it will also help them manage the elections they will supervise," he added.
CENI head Abdullah Ould Aswid Ahmed said that the enhancement of the staff's skills would "cover both the central administration and representative offices in various states, in addition to the personalities that play a role in the implementation of the electoral process".
"The proposals that were submitted came... under the supervision of eminent experts. In addition, workshops will be organised to enable placing the proposals in their national context. The training will also be enhanced by the participation of national experts characterized by extensive experience in the field of elections in our country," he said.
However, some political activists and observers are sceptical about the need for this training, seeing it as an interference that has nothing to do with the democratic process.
"We do not recognise the existence of this commission because it is devoid of the legality of national consensus," Union of the Forces of Progress (UFP) member Beban Ould Quad said.
"I think this training session is useless, as are other seemingly reassuring yet encrypted procedures that the commission is trying to inculcate in Mauritanian political opponents," media expert Haj Ould Ibrahim told Magharebia.
He added that the commission's work was "technical and not related to the current situation".
"It is a political decision outside the control of the commission and is linked to the political agendas of the government, as a result of conflicts or agreements with the rest of the political parties," he added.