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ISLAMABAD: A Commonwealth team led by former Nigerian President Dr Goodluck Jonathan will be deployed to Pakistan to observe the general elections scheduled for 8 February 2024.

At the request of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), through the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, a 13-member Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) is due to arrive in Islamabad on 1st February and will remain in the country until the electoral process is completed, the Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement on Saturday.

‘High chances of a coalition government’, says brokerage house as Pakistan braces for elections

The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, has selected a team of multidisciplinary experts from across the Commonwealth, according to the statement. It added that the observer group will offer an independent and comprehensive assessment of the electoral process. “I applaud Pakistan’s commitment to transparency and accountability. The Commonwealth is pleased to support Pakistan’s democratic journey. We look forward to peaceful and fair elections,” said the Commonwealth Secretary-General.

“I am grateful that the former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, has once again accepted our invitation to serve as Chair of an election observer group. The team of observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the further strengthening of the electoral system,” she further stated. “It is hoped that these recommendations will be of benefit to the people and government of Pakistan in strengthening their electoral processes,” she added.

She added that the Commonwealth Secretariat would be ready to assist with this process if deemed necessary. She also called on all stakeholders, including political parties and their supporters, to contribute to a peaceful election in keeping with the Commonwealth values.

During their stay, the members of the observer group will be stationed throughout the country. The COG will be supported by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Linford Andrews, Adviser and Head of the Electoral Support Section. While in Pakistan, the members of the observer group will also meet with a wide range of interlocutors, including representatives from political parties, election officials, media stakeholders, and civil society groups. On the Election Day, members of the COG will observe and consider all aspects of the election process across Pakistan- from the opening of polling stations and the voting process to the counting of ballots and announcement of results.

Following the Election Day, the group will hold a press conference and issue an interim statement with its preliminary findings. Their final report, including recommendations to help improve future electoral processes, will be presented to the government of Pakistan and the Election Commission.

The report will also be shared with other stakeholders. Members of the Commonwealth Observer Group, include, Chairperson: Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, former president of Nigeria; Observers, Dr Linet Damaris Njeri Muthoni, criminology and gender expert, Australia; Barbara Malimali, Principal of Pacific Chambers and Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Fiji; Nazima Natasha Raghubir, journalist and media advocate, Guyana; Ahmed Issack Hassan, former Chairperson of the Independent National Election Commission of Kenya and Advocate, High Court of Kenya; Anahila Lose Kanongata’a JP, former Member of Parliament, New Zealand; Belinda Kora, Founder and Lead for Women in Media and Secretary of the Media Council of Papua New Guinea; Sarah Lucy Flood-Beaubrun, former Speaker of the House of Assembly, Saint Lucia; Umaru Fofana, Editor-in-Chief, FreeMedia Group and former President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists; Mohamed Mahdoom Mohamed, former Commissioner General of Elections, Election Commission of Sri Lanka; Brian Speers, lawyer and mediator and former President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association, United Kingdom; Mohamed Chande Othman, former Chief Justice of the United Republic of Tanzania, and Jacob Goma, elections expert, Zambia.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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