Current Affairs

Current Affairs




EU gives CAFFE $9.4 m to monitor polls
Observer Reporter
Wednesday, September 18, 2002



LOCAL elections watchdog, the Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), on Monday received $9.4 million from the European Union (EU)to meet its budgetary requirements in monitoring the upcoming general elections.

"It is indeed a great pleasure to present CAFFE with a contract in the amount of 198,158 euro [J$9.4 million]...The EU is particularly keen on supporting organisations who aim to promote democracy and good governance," head of the delegation of the European Commission Gerd Jarchow said at the handing over ceremony in Kingston.

Executive director of CAFFE, Ouida Ridgard, said the EU's contribution was the final overseas grant, adding that the organisation was now awaiting local contributions to finalise arrangements for monitoring the polls.

The organisation, which has an estimated $21 million budget, has already received Can$150,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency and US$140,000 from the United States Agency for International Development

The grants will equip approximately 2,500 volunteers in polling locations islandwide for election day activities.

"We have stepped up our training programme because the volunteers need to know what to expect at the polling stations on election day, as such we will have simulations every Thursday and Saturday at Stella Maris church and also at Alpha Girl's High School, and what we do is to have a board member at these assignments, Ridgard said.

"This is the third time that the EU is assisting CAFFE and it is a testament to the confidence we have in their ability to ensure a free and fair electoral process," Jarchow noted

In 1997 general elections the EU gave CAFFE $2 million, and $1 million for the 1998 local government elections.

Added Jarchow: "This was a form of the continuance of the EU's mandate and whose treaty considers the protection and promotion of human rights and support for democratisation as a corner stone of EU foreign policy and development."