Former Prime Minister of Malta Dr Lawrence Gonzi is to head a 17 member Commonwealth group arriving in the Maldives on August 31 to observe the upcoming presidential election.
The group, constituted by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, is mandated to “observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process” on September 7 to ensure it is held in compliance to agreed standards for fair polling.
It was confirmed by the Maldives Election’s Commission late last month that observers from both the Commonwealth and EU would be monitoring the election. Representatives from other local groups and institutions have also pledged to observe the vote.
The Commonwealth Observer Group, scheduled to arrive in the Maldives later this month, is expected to be in the country until September 14.
The group’s work will be overseen by a Commonwealth Secretariat support group, led by Nishana Jayawickrama, head of the intergovernmental organisation’s Asia/Europe Political Affairs Division.
According to the Commonwealth, the seventeen member panel consists of:
- Group Chair Dr Lawrence Gonzi
- Hugh Craft, former Australian diplomat
- Bruce Hatch, Canadian elections expert
- Elizabeth Ohene, former minister and media expert in Ghana
- Navin Chawla, India’s former Chief Election Commissioner
- Prof Lisa Ann Vasciannie, Jamaican governance expert
- Yusmadi Yusoff, former Malaysian MP
- Notemba Tjipueja, Namibian Elections Commission Chair
- Maryan Street, New Zealand MP
- Prof Attahiru Jega, Nigerian National Electoral Commission Chair
- Zobaida Jalal, former minister in Pakistan
- Dr Alphonse Gelu, Registrar of Political Parties in Papua New Guinea
- Hendrick Gappy, Seychelles Electoral Commission Chair
- Ms Lindiwe Faith Mokate, South African Human Rights Commission
- Andi Schubert, Sri Lanka youth representative
- Prof Sylvia Tamale, Ugandan gender expert
- John Turner, UK elections expert
In a statement, the Commonwealth said the observer group will work impartially and independently, conducting itself in line with the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation.
As well as making possible recommendations on how to strengthen the electoral framework in the Maldives for future voting, the observers will also submit a report on the 2013 presidential election to both Commonwealth and Maldives authorities.
Earlier this month, both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) announced plans to station election observers in specific areas of the country.
The MDP has pledged to place more than a thousand election observers throughout the country, an average of four observers per ballot box.
Meanwhile, the HRCM will reportedly be stationing its own election observer teams in 10 regions of the Maldives to monitor polls.