A former Foreign Minister from The Bahamas, Janet Bostwick, will lead a team of Commonwealth observers to Antigua and Barbuda for the country’s general election next week.
Secretary-General Patricia Scotland announced the deployment of the three-person Commonwealth Observer Group following an invitation from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
“I am delighted that former Foreign Minister, Janet Bostwick, has accepted my invitation to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “Her considerable experience, having served in a range of cabinet portfolios in The Bahamas, will be a real asset in this important assignment.”
Mrs Bostwick was the first woman elected to the House of Assembly in The Bahamas. She served as Foreign Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Women’s Affairs, Minister of Housing and Labour, and Minister of Justice and Immigration.
On 24 February, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that Antigua and Barbuda would hold a general election on 21 March, over a year before elections were constitutionally due.
The Commonwealth has a long history of observing elections in Antigua and Barbuda, having been present at the last five elections.
These elections will contest the 17 seats in the lower chamber of Antigua and Barbuda’s bicameral parliament. The majority of 14 seats is currently held by Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s Antigua Labour Party with the remaining three seats held by the United Progressive Party.
The Group will consider all aspects of the electoral process, including the pre-electoral environment and election preparations. On election day, the group will observe the voting process, vote-counting procedures and the announcement of results, and will form an assessment according to international standards for democratic elections to which Antigua and Barbuda has committed.
As with all Commonwealth Observer Groups, it will function with impartiality and independence, and will conduct itself according to the standards set out in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The Group will submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will convey it to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, Speaker of Parliament, relevant civil society organisations and with all other Commonwealth governments. This report will then be made public.
The Commonwealth Observer Group will be in Antigua and Barbuda from 14 March to 26 March.
Observer Group members:
Mrs Janet G. Bostwick, Former Foreign Minister, Attorney-General and Member of Parliament, The Bahamas
Ms Linda Duffield, Former Chief Executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Former Diplomat, United Kingdom
Mr Hendrick Gappy, Former Chairperson of the Seychelles Electoral Commission, Seychelles
The Commonwealth Observer Group is supported by a two-person Commonwealth Secretariat staff team: Ms Sarah Linton and Ms Gabrielle Beran.
Ms Gabrielle Beran, mobile phone: +1 268 720 7212, email: firstname.lastname@example.org