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Sir Anand Satyanand leads Commonwealth election observer mission to Papua New Guinea

22 May 2017

The former Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Anand Satyanand, will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group for the national elections taking place in Papua New Guinea in June-July 2017.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland is deploying a 12-member observer mission following an invitation from the Government of Papua New Guinea. 

“I am delighted that Sir Anand has accepted my invitation to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group,” said Secretary-General Scotland.  “His considerable experience in the Pacific region, including previously serving as Governor-General of New Zealand and as Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation, will be of immense value in this important assignment.”

Sir Michael Somare, the first Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, is retiring at this election. Sir Michael has served continuously as a member of parliament since he was first elected to the pre-independence House of Assembly in 1968, an unbroken term of 49 years.

Sir Anand has scheduled an advance mission to Papua New Guinea from 24 to 27 May to meet with a wide range of stakeholders and review election preparations.

A team of advance observers will commence duties in Port Moresby on 7 June.  Sir Anand and the remaining members of the Commonwealth Observer Group will join them from 20 June.  Polling will commence in Papua New Guinea on 24 June, and take place over a 10-day period. 

This will be Papua New Guinea’s 9th Parliamentary Election since independence.  Its theme is “Your Choice – Protect our Democracy”.  The Commissioner of Elections, Mr Patilias Gamato, has urged every citizen to uphold the rule of law and impressed on them that the choice they make in 2017 will affect current and future generations of Papua New Guinea’s citizens.

The Group will remain in Papua New Guinea until 11 July.

Composition of the Group

Rt Hon Sir Anand Satyanand (Chair)
Former Governor-General of New Zealand and Former Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation
New Zealand

Ms Lorna Simon
Supervisor of Elections
Antigua and Barbuda

Mr Sean Dorney
Non-resident Fellow, Lowy Institute for International Policy
Australia

Ms Sashi Kiran
Chief Executive Officer, Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises and Development (FRIEND)
Fiji

Mr Joseph Whittal
Chairperson, Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice
Ghana

Ms Tricia Nolakumarie Teekah
Policy and Advocacy Officer, Guyana Civil Society Leadership Project
Guyana

Dr Noor Mohammed
Former Deputy Election Commissioner
India

Hon Gabrissa Hartman
Member for Ubenide
Nauru

Ms Fetogi Vaai
Assistant Commissioner of Elections
Samoa

Mr Calvin Ziru
Registrar, Political Parties Commission
Solomon Islands

Ms ‘Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki
Director, Women and Children Crisis Centre
Tonga

Mr Wilson Toa
Chief Executive Officer, Transparency International
Vanuatu

Note to editors:

Commonwealth observers were present at four of the last five national elections in PNG (1992, 1997, 2007 and 2012), as well as at elections in PNG’s Autonomous Region of Bougainville (2005, 2010 and 2015).

Sir Anand Satyanand served as Governor-General of New Zealand from 2006 to 2011, and as Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation from 2013 to 2016.

The Group will be supported by a staff team led by Mr Albert Mariner of the Political Division, Commonwealth Secretariat.  Please direct all media enquiries to Mr Mariner +44(0)7587634592 or Mr Ulafala Aiavao media@commonwealth.int

Commonwealth Observer Group Terms of Reference

“The Group is established by the Commonwealth Secretary-General at the invitation of the Government of Papua New Guinea.  The Group is to consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole.

The Group will determine in its own judgement whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself, with reference to national election-related legislation as well as relevant Commonwealth, regional and other international norms and commitments. 

The Group is to act impartially and independently.  It has no executive role: its function is not to supervise but to observe the process as a whole and to form a judgement accordingly.  It would also be free to propose to the authorities concerned such action on institutional, procedural and other matters as would assist the holding of such elections.

The Group is to submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Papua New Guinea, the PNG Electoral Commission and leaders of political parties, and thereafter all Commonwealth member governments.”

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