Dutch provide SCER with $1.7 million [Archives:2005/803/Local News]

January 3 2005

Sanaa, Dec 28 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Sana'a announced last Tuesday that the Government of Netherlands is contributing the amount of more than USD 1.7 million to the second phase of the Electoral Support Project for the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referenda (SCER).

Mr. Johan Blankenberg, the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Sana'a and Ms. Flavia Pansieri, the UNDP Resident Representative in Yemen signed the cost-sharing agreement with Mr. Khalid Al-Sharif, the Chairman of the SCER represented in the signing ceremony that took place last Tuesday.

The UNDP office said, “the Dutch contribution will provide support to ensure the conformity of legal and institutional framework to the international standards related to increased public participation in electoral processes in Yemen. The contribution will support components of the project during the period between December 2004 and December 2006.”

The last parliamentary elections held in April 2003 had witnessed several violations, particularly in rural areas and were reported to be unsatisfactory by a number of local and international election observers. The agreement comes in part to enhance the capacity of the SCER and help boost the standards of future elections.

However, a number of legal experts believe that unless the SCER body is totally independent, international support may be in vain. They believe that the funds that go to the SCER and how they are utilize and the developmental activities within the SCER should be transparent and reflect a true intention to enhance the standard of free elections.

They also urge international donors and bodies concerned with democratic development to empower independent and unbiased civil society organizations to enhance their own capacity in monitoring elections and raise awareness about the elections process.