I am honored to be here in the Republic of Nauru as Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Mission for the 2016 General Elections. Our three member team was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, following an invitation from the Electoral Commissioner of Nauru. The team is supported by two members of staff from the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Commonwealth observers were last deployed to observe Nauru’s General Election in 2004, in a joint mission with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. We are very pleased to return in 2016, alongside and working closely with the Pacific Islands Forum observer mission.
Our mandate is to examine the factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. This includes observing and evaluating election day, as well as the pre-election and post-election periods.
We will consider whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nauru has committed itself, including the constitutional framework and national legislation, as well as Commonwealth and other international commitments. We will be objective, independent and impartial.
Our arrival was preceded by a pre-election visit that took place from 17-19 June 2016, by one of our observers, Ms Merilyn Tahi. The Group began its formal briefings on Monday, 4 July and expects to meet a wide range of people in Nauru, including the Electoral Commission, members of the caretaker Government, some of the candidates, civil society organisations and members of the diplomatic community.
On 9 July we will observe the opening of the polls, voting, closing of the polls, counting of votes and the official declaration of results.
We will issue an interim statement of key findings shortly after the official declaration of the results. A final report will be prepared in Nauru prior to the team’s departure on 13 July. The report will be officially submitted to the Secretary-General, who will in turn transmit copies to the Electoral Commission, the Government, and other key stakeholders in Nauru. It will also be circulated to all Commonwealth member Governments and will be made available to the public.
This is a significant election for the people of Nauru as it will be the first election to be organised and administered by the newly established Nauru Electoral Commission. The success of these elections will depend on every individual playing their part to ensure the process is inclusive, transparent and peaceful.
The global challenges faced by all small states in the Commonwealth are immense. Nauru is no exception. The Commonwealth has been and will continue to be a key partner for all our small states in addressing some of these challenges. The Commonwealth Observer Mission looks forward to observing the citizens exercising their democratic rights this Saturday in selecting their representatives for the next Parliament, who will be tasked with ensuring the country’s democratic culture is enhanced and protected, and national development objectives are pursued for the benefit of all the citizens of Nauru.