"The Commonwealth Observer Group is delighted to be here in Solomon Islands to observe the forthcoming elections scheduled for 19 November 2014. I feel honoured to have been requested by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, to lead a team of distinguished Commonwealth citizens on this mission.
Our presence here follows an invitation from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission and the findings of an Assessment Team which was here last month. The Assessment Team established that there was broad support for, and that conditions existed for, the presence of a Commonwealth Observer Group in the country.
The Commonwealth attaches great importance to the conduct of credible and peaceful elections as a means of giving citizens an opportunity to choose their leaders and to hold them accountable. Indeed, the Commonwealth Charter, agreed by Commonwealth leaders, and signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth in 2013, buttresses this commitment.
In the Commonwealth Charter, we recognise the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections, in shaping the society in which they live. Our presence here is meant to promote and uphold that fundamental belief.
Our Group comes from across the breadth of the membership of the Commonwealth. We are supported by a professional staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat. I would like to stress that each one of us is here in our individual capacity. We do not represent our governments, or the organisations or associations which we are affiliated to.
In doing our work, we will be independent, objective and impartial. Our task is to observe and report on relevant aspects of the organisation and conduct of these elections, and also on the environment in which they are held.
The Group will consider the key factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole, and assess whether these elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Solomon Islands has committed itself. These standards are in reference to Solomon Islands’ own election related legislation, as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and other international commitments.
In the coming days, we will meet a wide range of stakeholder, including the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission, representatives of political parties, civil society, the media and the Commonwealth diplomatic corps.
Prior to Election Day, we will deploy to a variety of locations around the different islands to observe the voting, counting and results process.
We appeal to all stakeholders to play their due roles to ensure a credible and peaceful process, before, during and most importantly after the elections. This is particularly important given the recent political history of the country.
Finally, we look to the citizens of Solomon Islands to show the way by participating in large number in this democratic process. All eyes in the region and the Commonwealth are on you. You have an opportunity to make yourselves, the region and the Commonwealth proud by doing it—and doing it well—and peacefully. And you can do it."