Commonwealth to observe Vanuatu elections


11 January 2016 – A former Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Hubert
Ingraham, will lead a Commonwealth Observer Group to Vanuatu for its
General Election on 22 January.

The snap election is being held nine months ahead of schedule,
following a period of political instability in which 14 Members of
Parliament were convicted of bribery.  The convictions led to a
political deadlock between the Government and the Opposition which
prompted President Baldwin Lonsdale to dissolve Parliament.

The Commonwealth’s Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, mobilised the
Observer Group at the invitation of the Vanuatu Government.  He said
its work would complement the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to support
democracy in the country.

“The Commonwealth has a long history of assistance to Vanuatu.  We
have been working with the Government and with all political leaders
to strengthen democratic processes and institutions in the country,”
he stated.  Last year the Commonwealth facilitated a dialogue among
political leaders that could lead to a roadmap for reform.

The Observer Group will contribute to this process by offering
practical recommendations to strengthen Vanuatu’s electoral process
based on their observations. The five-member team will examine
pre-election preparations, voting and counting procedures and the
announcement of results. They will assess any factor affecting the
credibility of the elections and determine whether they were conducted
according to international standards and the laws of Vanuatu.

The Observer Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth
Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of
Vanuatu, the Electoral Commission and the principal political parties.
It will subsequently be released online.

The observers will be supported by a four-member staff team, led by
Albert Mariner of the Political Division of the Secretariat.  The
staff team will arrive in Vanuatu on 13 January and depart five days
after the elections.

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Composition of the Group:

Chair: Rt Hon Hubert Ingraham
Former Prime Minister of the Bahamas

Jane Prentice MP
Federal Member for Ryan
Australia

Enrico Woolford
Editor-in-Chief
Capitol News
Guyana

Walter Rigamoto
Former Ombudsman
Former Supervisor of Elections
Fiji

Jessica Nkuuhe
Gender, Peace and Security Expert
Uganda

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