LONDON, United Kingdom, January 31, 2019/ — The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, constituted the observer group following an invitation from Tanzania’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Members include politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender and election administration from across the Commonwealth.
An advance group of observers was deployed to Nigeria on 29 January, while other members of the team are expected to arrive in Abuja on 8 February.
“The Commonwealth has a long history of observing elections in member countries, in solidarity with electors as they choose their leaders, and in support of efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth has observed the previous five elections in Nigeria, and I am pleased to be deploying so distinguished a group to again support the nation in its continuing journey of democratic development,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. It will assess whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself, with reference to national legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments. Where appropriate, the Group can also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework.
The Commonwealth Observer Group will consider the pre-election environment and election preparations. Members will be deployed to various regions of the country where they will observe the voting, vote-counting and results procedures.
The Group will submit its final report for consideration by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and she will in turn share it with the Government of Nigeria, INEC and political parties before conveying it to all Commonwealth governments. It will then be made public.
The Group will be supported by Commonwealth Secretariat staff led by Ms Katalaina Sapolu, Senior Director of the Governance and Peace Directorate.
The Commonwealth Observer Group is composed of:
His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, Chairperson
Former President of United Republic of Tanzania.
Dr Lesley Clark, Gender Specialist, Australia
Mr Gary Dunn, Former Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Australia
Mr Omar Jallow, Politician, The Gambia
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Ghana
Mr Prosper Bani, Politician, Ghana
Hon Emmanuel Bombande, Senior Mediation Adviser, United Nations, Ghana
Dr Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India , India
Mr Orrette Fisher, Elections Consultant, Jamaica
Ms Jedidah Waruhiu, Commissioner, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya
Adv. Notemba Tjipueja, Chairperson Electoral Commission, Namibia
Dr Eric Kwa, Lawyer, Papua New Guinea
Mr Ernest Sagaga, Head, Human Rights & Safety International Federation of Journalists, Rwanda
Mrs. Marcella Samba-Sesay, Chairperson National Election Watch (NEW), Sierra Leone
Ms Crystal Orderson, Regional Director, The Africa Report, South Africa
Ms Joy Napier, Commonwealth Youth & Human Rights Representative, St Kitts & Nevis
Ms Elizabeth Donnelly, Deputy Head & Research Fellow, Chatham House, United Kingdom
Ms Linda Duffield, Retired Diplomat Former Chief Executive, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, United Kingdom
Mr Musa Mwenye, Former Attorney General, Zambia