Commonwealth Observer Group urges peaceful and credible elections in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Led by Nigeria’s former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar, the 14-member Commonwealth Observer Group, supported by eight-member staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, would be deployed to various regions in Pakistan to critically examine the electoral process.

Drawn from across the regions of the Commonwealth, the eminent group members have distinguished backgrounds in law, election administration, diplomacy, human rights, civil society, politics and media, among others, and their knowledge and experience would be beneficial while considering the factors that affect the credibility of the electoral process, according to sources.

“We are well aware of the significance of these elections to the people of Pakistan. Our arrival affirms the Commonwealth’s support to Pakistan and its democratic process, and we will play our role with impartiality, independence and transparency,” Gen Abubakar remarked.

“We urge the general public, particularly women and youths, to actively participate in the upcoming general election, and all the stakeholders to ensure peaceful and credible elections,” he added.

The group has a long history of observing the elections in member countries of Commonwealth, and forms judgment according to the standards for democratic elections with particular reference to the Commonwealth Charter, national election-related legislation and other relevant regional and international commitments. The group had previously observed general elections in Pakistan in 2002 and 2013, respectively. After analysing the political scenario, electoral laws, security issues and campaigns environment, the Observers will review benchmarks such as the legal framework and environment for elections, independence and effectiveness of the Election Commission, freedom of expression and access to the media, and the participation of minorities, including women and youth.

Following the elections on July 25, The group would submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who would forward it to the Government of Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and political parties taking part in the elections and to the Governments of all Commonwealth member countries.

Thereafter, the final report would be made public, the Commonwealth Secretariat said.

The Observer Group comprises of the former Nigerian Head of State Gen (Rtd) Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre Coordinator Ms Shamima Ali, the Bangladesh Commonwealth Students’ Association Asian Representative Ms Shomy Hasan Chowdhury, the Nigerian retired diplomat ambassador Rabiu Dagari, the Sri Lankan member of Election Commission of Sri Lanka Professor Samuel Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission Commissioner Mr Jerald Joseph, the New Zealand’s Former Minister for Pacific Islands Affairs Dame Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, the Kenya’s Constitutional and Reform Education Consortium Executive Secretary Ms Regina Opondo, the South African ACCORD Development Consulting Manager of Elections Division Ms Joyce Pitso, the Indian former chief election commissioner Dr Shahabuddin Yaqoob Quraishi, the United Kingdom’s Victoria Law Courts of Birmingham District Judge Shamim Ahmed Qureshi, the Mauritius’ Electoral Commissioner Mr Mohammad Irfan Abdool Rahman, the Australian Senator for Western Australia Linda Reynolds and the South African Foundation of Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Mr Hanif Valley.

The group will stay in Pakistan till July 30.

Published in Daily Times, July 20th 2018.

Updated On: JULY 20, 2018

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