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Commonwealth announces group to observe Solomon Islands general election

Commonwealth secretary general, Kamalesh Sharma.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By PMC Newsdesk.

The Commonwealth secretary general has announced an observer group to oversee Solomon Islands’ general election on August 4.

The Solomon Islands’ national parliamentary election is seen as another step toward stable and sustainable government in the Solomons, and the observer team to designed to ensure those voting can do so without hindrance nor undue influence and that votes are secure and produce an accurate result.

Since 2003 a Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has provided policing and security to ensure the Melanesian state progressed out of a tumultuous period to a fully functioning democratic state.

Prior to 2003, the Solomon Islands had descended into sectarian disorder and inter-island division – where rival groups and militia caused the deaths of many and destabilised the function of the Solomons’ government.

Since 2003, RAMSI – made up of military personnel from the Pacific region and dominated by Australia – has assisted the restoration of the Solomon Islands’ civil and governmental institutions.

In a statement, the Commonwealth secretary general Kamalesh Sharma said: “This is an important election which provides the people of Solomon Islands with an opportunity to further consolidate the stability and democratic gains they have made.”

The Observer Team will arrive in Honiara on 28 July 2010 and stay until 12 August 2010, and will be led by former Commonwealth Parliamentary Association secretary general, Dr Arthur Donahoe QC.

    The Commonwealth statement follows and includes names of the observers:

    Commonwealth announces Group to observe Solomon Islands National Parliamentary elections

    Former CPA Secretary-General Dr Arthur Donahoe QC to lead Group

    A Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) will be present during the Solomon Islands’ National Parliamentary Elections scheduled for 4 August 2010. The COG will be led by the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Dr Arthur Donahoe QC.

    The Group was constituted by Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma at the invitation of the Government of Solomon Islands.

    “This is an important election which provides the people of Solomon Islands with an opportunity to further consolidate the stability and democratic gains they have made,” the Secretary-General said.

    The Group’s mandate is to observe preparations for the election; the polling, counting and results process and the overall electoral environment. The Team is to assess the overall conduct of the process and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral process in Solomon Islands.

    The Group will act impartially and independently and shall conduct itself according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation to which the Commonwealth is a signatory. The Group will work in close co-operation with other international observers under the logistical
    co-ordination generously provided by the United Nations.

    The Group’s report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Solomon Islands, the National Electoral Commission of Solomon Islands and political parties, and eventually to all Commonwealth Governments.

    The Commonwealth Observer Group will comprise nine eminent persons, including the Chair. The Team will arrive in Honiara on 28 July 2010 and stay until 12 August 2010.

    The full composition of the Group:

    Chair: Dr Arthur Donahoe QC
    Former CPA Secretary-General
    Canada

    Hon Taomati Iuta, MP
    Speaker of Parliament
    Kiribati

    Eng Dr Badru Kiggundu
    Chairperson, Electoral Commission of Uganda
    Uganda

    Ambassador James Aggrey-Orleans
    Former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
    Ghana

    Mr Chronox Manek
    Chief Ombudsman
    Papua New Guinea

    Ms Rita Payne
    Chairperson
    Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK Branch)
    India

    Mr Ahmed Fayaz Hassan
    Vice-Chairperson, Electoral Commission
    Maldives

    Ms Andie Fong Toy
    Former Director of Political and Security Programme
    Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat
    New Zealand

    Ms Shahreen Tilottoma
    Regional Youth Caucus Representative
    Commonwealth Youth Programme
    Bangladesh

    The Group will be supported by a four-person staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Dr Purna Sen, Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat.