Former President of Kiribati Anote Tong led a team of Commonwealth election observers to Nauru for the country’s general elections, scheduled for 9 July 2016.
Polling day will see voters asked to elect representatives to the 19-member Parliament. The last general elections in Nauru − the Commonwealth’s smallest member country with a population of around 10,000 − were held in June 2013.
In a statement, Secretary-General Scotland said: “The Commonwealth Charter recognises the inalienable right of individuals to participate in free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live. Towards this end, we urge all stakeholders in Nauru to commit to ensuring a peaceful and transparent election in which candidates and voters are free from intimidation, and fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly are respected.”
“My thanks go to President Tong for accepting my invitation to lead this team, and each of the Commonwealth observers for agreeing to take part. In offering their assessment on the conduct of the election and the overall credibility of the process, they will be contributing to the strengthening of democracy in Nauru.”
The three-person Commonwealth Observer Mission also includes Ms Lorna Simon, Supervisor of Elections of Antigua and Barbuda and Ms Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre.
The mandate of the Observer Mission is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment. The observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the strengthening of the electoral system in Nauru.
The observers will determine in their own judgement whether the elections have been conducted according to standards to which Nauru has committed, including domestic law and relevant regional, Commonwealth and other international standards. The observers act impartially in their own independent capacity, and will be bound by the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The team’s report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Nauru, the country’s Electoral Commission, and all Commonwealth governments. It will shortly thereafter be made public.
The observers are supported by a staff support team from the Commonwealth Secretariat headed by Mr Albert Mariner.