Commonwealth election observers are set to redeploy to Nigeria ahead of the presidential and National Assembly elections to be held on March 28, 2015. The Commonwealth Observer Group is led by Dr Bakili Muluzi, former President of Malawi.
A statement by Will Henley, communications officer for the group, says Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma constituted the Observer Group at the invitation of the chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Commonwealth observers deployed to Nigeria in early February for an election originally scheduled for February 14. Following a six-week postponement, the Observer Group was reconstituted by the secretary-general and will be redeployed ahead of polling day.
Mr Sharma said: “The Commonwealth has been following developments closely since the elections were rescheduled. We are pleased that INEC has used the additional time to strengthen its preparedness for the elections. We are also pleased that more than 80 per cent of registered voters have now collected their permanent voter cards.
“The Commonwealth urges all involved in these elections to put the interests of Nigeria above all other considerations, and to play their parts in ensuring peaceful, transparent and credible elections. The Nigerian people, alongside the wider region and wider world, expect this in Africa’s largest democracy.”
Mr Sharma underscored the importance of these elections being held as planned on March 28. He added: “I am encouraged by reports from Nigeria’s leadership that these critical elections will take place as rescheduled. The Commonwealth Charter to which all governments are committed recognises the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, especially free and fair elections.”
The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider the various factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. It will determine in its own judgement whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself, with reference to national election-related legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.
The Observer Group is impartial and independent and will conduct itself according to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Elections Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The Observer 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 will support the 10-member Observer Group.
The Commonwealth Observer Group comprises:
HE Dr Bakili Muluzi
Former President of Malawi
Ms Ellen Seckold
Former Co-Chair, Commonwealth Youth Forum, Australia
Mrs Martha Sayed
Commissioner, Independent Electoral Commission, Botswana
Ambassador Nana Effah-Apenteng
Former Diplomat, Ghana
Mr Orrette Fisher
Director of Elections, Electoral Commission of Jamaica, Jamaica
Hon Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o
Mr Charles Munyaneza
Executive Secretary, National Electoral Commission, Rwanda
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
Commonwealth Observer Group
Nigeria: +234 (0) 9037548040