Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to this Commonwealth Observer Group Press Conference.
I am greatly honoured and privileged to have been asked by Commonwealth Secretary-General H.E. Kamalesh Sharma, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group to Tanzania’s General Elections scheduled for 25 October 2015.
The Group was constituted following an invitation extended by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Our group comprises14 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean. The Group, which includes experts in politics, elections, media, conflict prevention and youth affairs, arrived yesterday and will stay in Tanzania until 31 October 2015.
These are significant elections for the people of Tanzania. Our presence here affirms the Commonwealth’s support to the country and its democratic processes.
The Group began its briefings today and expects to meet with a wide range of stakeholders including the National Electoral Commission, political parties, civil society organisations, the diplomatic community, and other international and local observer groups.
During our time in Tanzania, we will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period, against the backdrop of Tanzania’s national legislation, regional and international commitments.
We will perform our observation role with impartiality, independence and transparency.
On Friday 23 October, members of the Group will deploy in small teams to various provinces across the country to observe preparations ahead of polling day. On Election Day, they will observe opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management process.
We will issue an Interim Statement on our preliminary findings shortly after the elections. A final report will be prepared in Tanzania. It will be submitted to the Secretary-General, and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. The Group is scheduled to depart Tanzania on 31 October.
We hope that our Group’s presence will demonstrate the Commonwealth’s solidarity with the people of Tanzania.
The success of these elections depends on every stakeholder playing their part in a peaceful, inclusive and transparent manner. We have every confidence in the people of Tanzania to achieve that.
On behalf of the Group, I wish the people of the United Republic of Tanzania, well, as they go out on Saturday to exercise their franchise.
The fourteen Commonwealth Observers will be in Tanzania from 19 to 31 October 2015.
The Commonwealth Observer Group members are:
Chair: HE Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Mr Bwire Albert Commissioner, Independent Elections and Boundaries Commissions, Kenya
Mrs Keireng Zuze Deputy Secretary, Independent Electoral Commission, Botswana
Dr Lisa Vasciannie Lecturer, International Relations, Department of Government, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Hon Winnie Laban Former Minister and Member of Parliament, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika), New Zealand
Ms Sylvia Lim Member of Parliament, Singapore
Prof St.John Bates Barrister, United Kingdom
Amb Bernadette Olowo-Freers Former Ambassador, Uganda
Amb Neelam Deo Former Ambassador, India
Ms Terry Ince Project Manager, Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women, Trinidad and Tobago
Mr Dalbir Singh Former Chair of Asia Region, Commonwealth Youth Programme, Malaysia
Mr Alexander Rheeney Editor, Post Courier, Papua New Guinea
Mr Rohana Hettiarachchi Director, People Action for Free and Fair Elections,Sri Lanka
Ms Margaret Shava Lawyer and Human Rights Expert, Kenya
Dr Victor Shale (Advance Observer), Electoral Expert, South Africa