Commonwealth team arrives

commonFormer South African President, Mr Thabo Mbeki, is leading a 17-member Eminent Persons from across the different regions of the Commonwealth including Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific to observe Ghana’s Election 2016.

Some of the leading members include Dr Lesley Clark, a gender expert from Australia, Shahreen Tilottoma, a youth expert from Bangladesh, Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer from Belize, and Pandu Skelemani, former Foreign Minister of Botswana.

Mr Mbeki told the Ghana News Agency that the group would, from Sunday, December 4, deploy its members to all 10 regions of Ghana.

The Commonwealth Group of Experts will be in small teams to observe preparations ahead of the polling day and meet with political parties, the police, election officials and other stakeholders to discuss best practices.

“On the election day, they will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.

“We will issue an interim statement on our preliminary findings on December 9, 2016 and a final report will then be prepared and submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public,” Mr Mbeki said.

The group is expected to leave Ghana on December 13, 2016.

Mr Mbeki explained that the group, which is in the country at the invitation of the Electoral Commission, brings a wealth of experience from across the social and political spectrum including civil society, women’s and youth groups, human rights organisations and the media.

He said: “We are here to observe the electoral process and will act impartially and independently as we scrutinise its organisation and conduct.

“We will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period against the backdrop of Ghana’s national legislation, regional and international commitments.

“We will then take a view whether it has been conducted to the international and regional standards to which Ghana has committed itself, including its own laws.

“In this context, we look forward to the presidential candidates reaffirming their commitment to peaceful elections.”

The group also planned briefings with a wide range of stakeholders including the Electoral Commission, political parties, local observers, women’s groups and the youth.

“We will also be briefed by our Advance Observer Team which has been on the ground in Ghana since 16th November.

“We are aware of the significance of these elections to the people of Ghana. Our presence here affirms the support of the Commonwealth to the country and its democratic processes. We will perform our observation role with impartiality, independence and transparency.

“We hope that our group’s presence will confirm the solidarity of the Commonwealth with the people of Ghana.

“On behalf of the group, I wish the people of the Republic of Ghana well, as they go out on Wednesday to exercise their franchise in conditions of peace,” Mr Mbeki said.

GNA

 

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