Commonwealth Observer Group Reacts to Poll Shift

The  Commonwealth Observer Group to Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential and National Assembly Elections has commented on the postponement of the elections by six weeks. The group, via a statement issued by its chairperson, Dr Bakili Muluzi, on Sunday, urged all stakeholders to give INEC the necessary support to deliver credible polls from March 28.

The statement released by Will Henley, the Group’s communications officer, reads:

“The Commonwealth Observer Group arrived in the country on 7 February, following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to observe the Presidential and National Assembly Elections originally scheduled for 14 February, and to consider all factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole.

“Soon after our arrival, we were informed of the decision taken by the Chairman of INEC to postpone these elections by six weeks in light of the security situation facing Nigeria. We understand and respect this decision, taken in difficult circumstances.

“We look forward to the rescheduled elections taking place on 28 March, to enable the people of Nigeria to exercise their democratic right. We further urge all stakeholders to remain calm and patient and to give the Commission the support it needs to deliver these important elections.

“The Commonwealth Observer Group encourages the relevant authorities to do their utmost to ensure the safety and security of all citizens and deliver the conditions which are conducive for a peaceful and credible poll.”

Dr Muluzi is a former president of Malawi.

The Group was constituted by the secretary-general of the Commonwealth, Kamalesh Sharma, at the invitation of INEC chairman Attahiru Jega.

Mr Sharma said, “Nigeria is one of the largest democracies in the Commonwealth family. We continue to encourage Nigeria to exercise leadership and uphold democracy through credible elections.”

The Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth secretary-general, who will in turn send it to the government of Nigeria, INEC, political parties and eventually to all Commonwealth governments. It will then be made public.A staff support team of six persons from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Ms Katalaina Sapolu of the Secretariat’s Rule of Law Division will support the 11-member Observer Group.

Below is the full list of the Commonwealth Observer Group:

HE Dr Bakili Muluzi
Former President of Malawi

Ms Ellen Seckold
Former Co-Chair, Commonwealth Youth Forum, Australia

Dr Fonkam Azu’u
Chairman, Elections Cameroon, Cameroon

Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng
Former Diplomat, Ghana

Dr Rupert Roopnaraine
Member of Parliament, Guyana

Mr Orette Fisher
Electoral Commission of Jamaica, Jamaica

Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan
Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Kenya

Professor Aishah Bidin
Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, Malaysia

Ms Papama Nomboniso Gasa
Political Analyst, South Africa

Hon Dr Miria Matembe
Former Minister and Member of Parliament,Uganda

Ms Elizabeth Blunt
Writer and Broadcaster, United Kingdom



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