FOLLOWING AN INVITATION by the Government of Vanuatu to the Commonwealth Secretariat a Commonwealth Observer Group was dispatched and are currently in Vanuatu to observe in the upcoming snap election on 22 January 2016.
The Commonwealth Observer Team is led by the former Prime Minister of the Bahamas Mr. Hubert Ingraham. “Members of our Group were selected from across the Commonwealth, and include political, election, media and gender experts,” stated Mr. Hubert upon their arrival in Vanuatu last week.
“Our mandate is to observe the electoral process and consider the factors that could impinge on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. This includes observing the pre-election environment, polling day, and the post-election period,” Mr. Hubert explained.
Since their arrival in Vanuatu the Commonwealth observers have held briefings with a wide range of people. On Monday this week they met with officers from Transparency International Vanuatu to learn more about the work of Transparency International Vanuatu especially during election periods.
Today, 20 October, the Commonwealth Observer Group will be deployed to Santo, Tanna, Efate and around Port Vila to observe the pre-election environment. “We will observe whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Vanuatu has committed itself, including the country’s constitutional framework and national legislation as well as Commonwealth and other international commitments. We will be objective, independent and impartial,” Mr. Hubert pointed out.
“We will issue an interim statement of key findings shortly after the election. A final report will be prepared in Vanuatu prior to our departure on 25 January. It will be submitted to the Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Vanuatu, the Electoral Commission, leaders of political parties, and thereafter to all Commonwealth Governments. It will also be made available to members of the public.”
“This is a significant election for the people of Vanuatu in view of recent developments and the constant political challenges in the country. The Commonwealth attaches the highest importance to the conduct of credible and peaceful elections as a means of giving the citizens an opportunity to choose their leaders and to hold them accountable. I urge all the citizens of Vanuatu, in particular the women and youth, to participate in this election, and to play their part to ensure the process is peaceful, inclusive and transparent,” encouraged Mr. Hubert.
The Commonwealth Charter ‘recognizes the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live.’
Also observing are teams from other regional institutions including the Pacific Islands Secretariat. Transparency International Vanuatu Observer Teams will not be physically participating in this election but will continue to observe through already established networks around Vanuatu.
Picture Source: The Commonwealth Twitter Account