The Commonwealth Observer Group is currently in Maldives to oversee the upcoming 11th parliamentary election, slated for April 6.
Maldives withdrew from the Commonwealth in 2016, but has since requested to reintegrate into the organisation. In accordance with the process, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih requested a Commonwealth group to observe the national vote.
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, is leading the group of eight observers upon request of Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
"The Group consists of distinguished Commonwealth citizens from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific who have a range of expertise from the political, electoral, legal, human rights and civil society fields”, revealed Golding.
Moreover, he noted that the team would keep in mind during their monitoring of the elections, that the Commonwealth made an exception for Maldives, although the organisation do not operate in non-member countries, on account of the nation’s re-application to join.
“The Group’s mandate is to observe and evaluate the pre-election period, polling day as well as the post-election period. We will consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole and report on whether it has been conducted in accordance with the national, regional, Commonwealth and international standards to which Maldives has committed itself”.
Golding also assured the team’s commitment to be objective, impartial and independent in conducting duties and undertaking assessments. He reiterated that the assessment will be solely of the Group’s, and not that of any member country of the Commonwealth.
Upon arrival on March 30, they received briefings in capital Male from relevant stakeholders such as the Elections Commission, political parties, Maldives Police Service, independent institutions, civil society and diplomatic community.
The team was deployed on April 4 to various atolls to observe pre-poll preparations in campaign environments, oversee the voting and the counting processes on election day.
“We will issue an Interim Statement of our preliminary findings after the election. The final report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and will be made available to the public afterwards”, stated the Group leader.
- Former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding,
- Electoral Expert Bruce Hatch, Canada
- Co-Founder and Director of Takshashila Institution Nitin Pai, India
- Vice Chairperson of National Commission for Human Rights George Morara Monyoncho, Kenya
- Former New Zealand Minister of Housing Maryan Street
- Commissioner of National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone Miatta French
- Senior Counsel Peter Pursglove, Trinidad and Tobago
- Former United Kingdom High Commissioner to Maldives and former CEO of Westminster Foundation for Democracy Linda Duffield, United Kingdom
Following the elections, the Group will present their preliminary findings at a press conference on April 9 in Male'. Their final report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and will be made available to the public at a later stage.
Commonwealth Observer Groups were present during the first multi-party elections in the Presidential Elections 2008 and Parliamentary Elections in 2009 and subsequently in 2013 and in 2014 respectively.
Maldives left the Commonwealth on October 13, 2016, during the tenure of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who cited claims that the intergovernmental organisation was meddling with the domestic affairs of the country and that there was discrimination between other member states.
The nation’s process to re-integrate into the Commonwealth is currently underway.