Brazzaville, November 2021 — The EU Delegation to Congo (Brazzaville) supported by Media4Democracy, has produced a timely brochure – Media and Elections – as a contribution to continuing EU efforts to strengthen the ability of independent media to support free and fair elections. The brochure is a compilation of presentations from regional experts and discussions which took place during a seminar convened by the EU Delegation and Media4Democracy prior to March 2021 elections in Congo Brazzaville.
Stressing the important role media play in the electoral process, the EU Ambassador Raul Mateus Paula writes in the introduction that the brochure will serve as support for EU Delegations, media and other institutions in francophone Africa.
The January 2021 seminar was held in cooperation with the country’s official media regulatory body, the Conseil Supérieur de la Liberté de Communication (CSLC) and used a hybrid model of in-situ and remote participation to accommodate COVID-19 precautions. This format allowed local media, official representatives and international actors to share and discuss their experiences.
Regional experts presented perspectives and best practice for strengthening media in challenging electoral contexts in a variety of African countries, as listed below:
- Pierre Mberi, Communications Advisor at the Conseil Supérieur de la Liberté de Communication, presented the legal framework and election-related activities of the Republic of Congo’s media regulatory body.
- Brice Rimbaud, Africa Regional Director, Internews, reviewed how self-regulatory media institutions have been set up and operate in several Anglophone African countries.
- Florence Morice, RFI journalist, presented her own experience covering elections in Congo, highlighting best practices for balanced, in-depth reporting on election campaigns and results.
- Paul Nkuadio, media law expert with Internews RDC, drew lessons from the challenges for fair election coverage in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the achievements of long-term actions to strengthen electoral cooperation and understanding between regulatory bodies, media, civil society and politicians.
- Claude Cirille, former RFI journalist, former editor-in-chief for Fondation Hirondelle projects in Côte d’Ivoire and Niger and project manager for Internews in Mali, described how international media development organisations worked with local journalists to strengthen free and fair media coverage of elections.
- Sylvie Bowen, journalist and training consultant, explained how implementing the principles of conflict-sensitive journalism helped mitigate the risks from virulent political polarisation and violence during elections in Central African Republic and Chad.
- Dr Nouha Belaïd, journalism and communications lecturer at the Université Centrale, Tunis, and co-founder of the Arab Journalism Observatory highlighted the transformational role of online and social media in Tunisia and presented a code of conduct for their responsible use in elections.
- Mathias Manirakiza, journalist, co-founder of «La Synergie» and former director of Radio Isanganiro, Burundi, described how coordinated election coverage by independent radio stations and other media in 2005 met the challenge of restoring credible election reporting after years of conflict and authoritarian rule.