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n Journal of African Elections - The role and status of the Independent Electoral Commission

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Abstract

Free, fair and transparent elections are fundamental to democracy. Citizens need to be assured that the politicians truly reflect the will of the people. The bodies charged with overseeing the election process must be impartial and independent, transparent and accountable. Botswana's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has overseen two elections since its formation in 1997 and overall has been judged to have carried out its duties competently and fairly. The elections have been free of disputes, contributing to the widely held belief that Botswana is a stable democracy. The IEC is to be applauded for undertaking self-evaluations with stakeholders following each election in order to improve its performance.


However, the structure and funding of the IEC leave it open to the charge that it is not truly independent of government and this has led to allegations, particularly by the opposition, that it may be biased. These perceived threats to independence should be addressed in the interests of transparency and to reassure the voters and avoid messy contestation of election results. It is recommended that the IEC should be responsible to Parliament and not to the Office of the President. It should be adequately funded to enable it to perform its tasks and obligations under the Constitution and the Act. The chief executive officer of the IEC should be appointed by the IEC itself in order to guarantee loyalty.

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/content/eisa_jae/5/2/EJC32418
2006-12-01
2016-12-04
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