Commonwealth observers will oversee elections in Tonga for the first time this week.
Following an invitation from the interim Prime Minister of Tonga, 'Akilisi Pohiva, a team of election observers was assembled and deployed by the Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland. The elections will take place on the 16 November.
The team will consist of four people, headed by Margaret Wilson, former Speaker of Parliament and Attorney-General of New Zealand. She will be joined by Mohammed Saneem (Supervisor of Elections , Fiji), Joseph Cain (Electoral Commissioner, Nauru) and Lomcebo Dlamini (Human Rights Lawyer, Swaziland).
The group will be supported by three members of the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Albert Mariner, Head of Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific Section.
In her arrival statement, Ms Wilson said, “It is an honour and a privilege to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group to Tonga’s 2017 National Parliamentary Elections.
“This is the first national election in the Kingdom that the Commonwealth will observe. Our presence here in Tonga is part of the organisation’s strong commitment to work with all the member states to support their national democratic processes.”
In advance of Thursday’s election, the team has met with the interim Prime Minister, the Electoral Commission, a number of members of parliament, civil society representatives, the media council and members of the diplomatic community.
The group will publish its findings in an election report shortly after it departs Tonga on 20 November.