Vice President Amissah-Arthur in a group photograph with former President Thabo Mbeki and his delegation
Vice President Amissah-Arthur in a group photograph with former President Thabo Mbeki and his delegation

Statement by: Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, HE Thabo Mbeki

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to this Commonwealth Observer Group Press Conference.

I am greatly honoured to have been asked by Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group to Ghana’s General Elections scheduled for 7 December 2016.

The Group was constituted following an invitation from the Electoral Commission of Ghana. It is made up of 17 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and the Pacific. They bring 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.

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.

Our planned briefings will be wide ranging, encompassing the Electoral Commission, political parties and local stakeholders; including citizen observers, women’s groups and youth.

We will also be briefed by our Advance Observer Team which has been on the ground in Ghana since 16th November.
From Sunday 4 December, our Observers will be deployed across all ten regions of the country. They will be in small teams and will arrive to observe preparations ahead of polling day and meet with political parties, the police, election officials and other stakeholders. On 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 9 December 2016. A final report will then be prepared and submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. The Group will leave Ghana on 13 December 2016.

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.

Note to Editors:

The Commonwealth Observer Group will function impartially and independently and will conduct itself according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation.
The 17 Commonwealth Observers will be in Ghana from 29 November to 13 December 2016. An Advance Observer Team was deployed to Ghana on 16 December 2016.
The Commonwealth Observer Group members are:

Chairperson
HE Thabo Mbeki – Chair
Former President of South Africa
South Africa

Dr Lesley Clark
Gender Expert
Australia

Shahreen Tilottoma
Youth Expert
Bangladesh

Josephine Tamai
Chief Elections Officer
Belize

Pandu Skelemani
Former Foreign Minister
Botswana

Samuel Azu’u Fonkam
President (Chairman)
Elections Cameroon
Cameroon

Ms Joan Purcell
Former Parliamentarian
Grenada

Ms Masjaliza Hamzah
Civil Society
Malaysia

Adv. Notemba Tjipueja
Chairperson,
Electoral Commission of Namibia
Namibia

Hon Margaret Wilson
Former Speaker
New Zealand

Professor Joy Ogwu
Former Foreign Minister and
Former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the UN
Nigeria

Ambassador Akin Fayomi
Former Diplomat
Nigeria

Dr Eric Kwa
Legal Expert
Papua New Guinea

Adelle Roopchand
Media Expert
Trinidad and Tobago

Peter Wardle
Former Chief Executive
Electoral Commission
United Kingdom

Dr Alex Vines OBE
Head, Africa Programme
Chatham House
United Kingdom

Musa Mwenye SC
Former Attorney General
Zambia

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 52 independent and equal sovereign states. It is home to 2.2 billion citizens, of which over 60% are under the age of 30. The Commonwealth includes some of the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries, spanning five regions. Thirty-one of its members are small states, many of them island nations. Commonwealth countries are supported by an active network of more than 80 intergovernmental, civil society, cultural and professional organisations.

For more on the work of the Commonwealth visit our website at www.thecommonwealth.org

Source: Lainy Malkan

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