The Commonwealth Observer Group was constituted by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma following an invitation from the Office of the Commissioner of Elections of Sri Lanka.
In a statement, the Secretary-General said: “I am delighted that the Commonwealth, which has a strong history of supporting Sri Lanka during its elections, has been invited to observe the parliamentary elections on 17 August.”
Mr Sharma added: “It is my hope and expectation that the country will continue in its tradition of conducting credible polling and vote-counting, and that the remainder of the campaign period, election day and the post-election period will be marked by adherence to the country’s election laws.”
The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider the various factors affecting 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 to which Sri Lanka has committed itself, with reference to national legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.
The observer group is impartial and independent and will conduct itself according to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Elections Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will send it to the Government of Sri Lanka, the Office of the Commissioner of Elections, political parties, and to all Commonwealth governments. Thereafter it will be published on the Commonwealth’s website.
A staff support team of five persons from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Mr Martin Kasirye, Head of the Secretariat’s Electoral Support Section, will support the nine member observer group.
Composition of the Group:
HE Dr George Abela, Former President
Mr Paul Dacey, Former Deputy Electoral Commissioner
Mr Navin Chawla, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India
Professor Lawrence Gumbe, Former Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Centre for Multiparty Democracy
Professor Aishah Bidin, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and Law Professor
Mr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group
Ms Bushra Gohar, Former Member of Parliament of Pakistan
Ms Adelle Roopchand, Communications, Media and Public Relations Specialist
Trinidad and Tobago
Ms Linda Duffield, Former Diplomat