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Commonwealth election observers issue statement on arrival in The Bahamas

6 May 2017

Commonwealth election observers in The Bahamas "will act impartially and independently”, the group’s chair has said.

Hanna Tetteh, a former foreign minister of Ghana, issued a statement today on behalf of the Commonwealth Observer Group. The team arrived on 3 May to observe the advance polls and will be observing the country’s general election on 10 May.

It is the first time the Commonwealth has observed elections to The Bahamian parliament.

“Our task as the Commonwealth Observer Group is to consider all the factors, to our knowledge, that would impact the credibility of the electoral process as a whole,” the former foreign minister said.

“We will consider, among other things, the general preparedness of the country’s electoral systems and processes – including whether there is a level playing field that allows all political parties and all candidates to take their campaigns to The Bahamian people; whether the voter register was compiled in such a way that all eligible voters who chose to register to vote had the ability to do so; and whether sufficiently robust mechanisms exist to ensure the integrity of the register.”

“Additionally, we will consider whether the state apparatus and public media are impartial; whether freedom of expression is provided for; whether voters are free to express their will; and whether the results process is transparent and timely.”

The foreign minister added that she was “greatly honoured” to have been asked by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland to lead the observer group, which includes independent experts from Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, and Guyana.

The observers are expected to issue an interim statement of their preliminary findings shortly after election day. The group is scheduled to depart The Bahamas on 13 May.


Note to Editors:

Read the statement in full on the Commonwealth website.

Commonwealth observers act impartially and independently and conduct themselves according to the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

Where appropriate, the Group may make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework. The Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. She in turn will send it to the government of The Bahamas, the Parliamentary Commissioner, political parties and all Commonwealth governments before it is made public.

Composition of the Group:

Hanna Tetteh (Chairperson)
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Industry and Trade
The Republic of Ghana

Elvin Bailey
Supervisor of Elections
St Kitts and Nevis

Lebrechtta Hesse-Bayne
Gender specialist
Antigua and Barbuda

Enrico Woolford
Chairman of the National Communications Network

The Commonwealth Observer Group is supported by Dr Tres-Ann Kremer and Clara Cole from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

Media Contact:

Staff Team Leader, Dr Tres-Ann Kremer, +1242 4466-582; t.kremer@commonwealth.int