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Commonwealth Observer Group begins its work in run-up to Zambia elections

7 August 2021

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) has arrived in Lusaka, Zambia, in preparation for the August 12 general elections.

COG's role pre-election

The COG, whose members are drawn from various Commonwealth countries with backgrounds ranging from political, electoral, civil society and human rights, as well as legal and media fields, was invited by the Government of the Republic of Zambia to observe the polls. A pre-election assessment team visited Zambia in April 2021.

An advance group of observers arrived in Lusaka on 25 July and the remainder of the team arrived on 6 August. They will be deployed to polling stations across the country to observe pre-poll preparations, voting day and result processes.

Significance of these elections

In an arrival statement, the Chair of the COG and former Tanzanian President HE Jakaya Kikwete said: “We recognise the significance of these elections to the people of Zambia, the region and the global community - and appreciate the challenges they present, especially at a time when the world is battling the Covid-19 pandemic. 

"Our mandate is to observe and evaluate the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period against the backdrop of Zambia’s national legislation and regulations, as well as regional and international commitments. We will then report on whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards to which Zambia has committed itself, including its own laws. In this context, we look forward to the Presidential candidates acting in accordance with the peace pledge, which was signed by political leaders on 14 July, where they reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful elections. This is a welcome development, facilitated by the Coalition for Peaceful Elections in Zambia (CPEZ), which is consistent with Commonwealth values.”

Deployment

On Monday 9 August, observers will be deployed to locations across the country. They will work in small teams, observing preparations ahead of polling day. On Election Day, they will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes. 

The COG will issue an Interim Statement of its preliminary findings on 14 August before departing Zambia on 17 August.

The Commonwealth Observer Group members are:

  • HE Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, former President of Tanzania (Chairperson)
  • Mrs Alicia Peters, Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society (Canada)
  • Hon Donald Malomba Esembe, Member of Parliament (Cameroon)
  • Dr Samuel Kale Ewusi, Africa Regional Director, UPEACE (Cameroon)
  • Ms Lomcebo Dlamini, Gender and Human Rights Specialist (Eswatini)
  • Mr Kenneth Abotsi, Electoral Affairs and Conflict Resolution Expert (Ghana)
  • Mr Douglas Gichuki, Advocate of the High Court (Kenya)
  • Ms Renee Ngamau, Advocate (Kenya)
  • Mr Samson Itodo, Executive Director, Yiaga Africa(Nigeria)
  • Hon Shandana Gulzar Khan, Chairperson, Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians(Pakistan)
  • Mrs Marcella Samba-Sesay, Chairperson, National Election Watch (NEW) and Executive Director, Campaign for Good Governance (Sierra Leone)
  • Professor Mandla Mchunu, Former Chief Electoral Officer (South Africa)
  • Ms Crystal Orderson, Journalist (South Africa)

Read Chair’s full arrival statement (PDF)

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