Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming to this Commonwealth Observer Group Press Conference.
I am greatly honoured and privileged to have been asked by the Commonwealth Secretary-General H.E. Kamalesh Sharma, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group for the Seychelles Presidential Election scheduled for 3-5 December 2015.
The Group was constituted following an invitation extended by the Electoral Commission of Seychelles.
Our Group comprises 9 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific. The Group, which includes experts in law, politics, elections, media, gender and human rights arrived on Saturday and will stay in Seychelles until 10 December 2015.
These are significant elections for the people of Seychelles. Our presence here affirms the Commonwealth’s support to the people of Seychelles and the country’s democratic processes.
The deployment began with an advance team who arrived in the country on 15 November, to take stock of the pre-election preparations and environment and met with a wide range of stakeholders.
The wider Group arrived on the 28 November and began its briefings on Sunday 29, when it met with the Electoral Commission of Seychelles. We have also met with members of civil society organisations and expect to meet with a wide range of stakeholders including political parties, Commonwealth High Commissioners, and other international and citizen observer groups. The Group has also observed a number of rallies.
During our time in Seychelles we will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period, against the backdrop of Seychelles national legislation and international commitments.
We will perform our observation role with impartiality, independence and transparency.
During the polling days members of the Group will visit all 25 electoral areas. They will be in small teams and will observe preparations ahead of polling day. During the polling period they will observe opening, voting and closing of polling stations including the results management process.
We will issue an Interim Statement on our preliminary findings on Monday 7 December, and a final report will be prepared and submitted to the Secretary-General, and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. We are scheduled to depart Seychelles on 10 December.
We hope that our presence will demonstrate the Commonwealth’s solidarity with the people of Seychelles.
The success of these elections depends on all stakeholders playing their part in a peaceful, inclusive and transparent manner. We have every confidence in the people of Seychelles to achieve that.
On behalf of the Group, I wish the people of the Seychelles well, as they go out to exercise their franchise.
An advance Commonwealth Observer team was present in Seychelles from 15 November 2015.
The nine Commonwealth Observers will be in Seychelles from 28 November to 10 December 2015.
Chair: Lord Sevele, Former Prime Minister, Kingdom of Tonga
Mr Alvin Smith, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Vice-President of the Senate, The Bahamas
Mr Mahendra Ved, Vice-President, Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) and Chairperson, CJA India Chapter
Ms Jane Michuki, Former Chairperson, Institute for Education in Democracy and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya
Ms Susana Faletau, Lawyer and former CEO of the Ministry of Justice, Tonga
Mr Mark Ramkerrysingh, Commissioner, Elections and Boundaries Commission, Trinidad and Tobago
Ms Deborah Ossiya, Gender, Human Rights and Governance Specialist, Uganda
Mrs Priscilla Isaac, Director, Electoral Commission of Zambia
Mr Kenneth Abotsi, Peace and Security Expert, Ghana
— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) November 25, 2015