Commonwealth names ‘strong’ Observer Group for Ghana’s elections

The Commonwealth organization has selected a 13-member Observer Group to monitor Ghana’s 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections set for December 7.

The group is led by former Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili, the Commonwealth announced in a statement November 26, 2012.

“The Commonwealth will observe this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Ghana, which will take place on December 7,” the organisation’s Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma announced.

The statement said the Observer Group’s mandate is to “observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process, assessing whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself. Where appropriate, the group can also make recommendations for future strengthening of the electoral framework. Commonwealth observers act impartially and independently, and conduct their business according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.”

The group is expected to be in Ghana from November 30 to December 14, 2012 and the Commonwealth says the Observer Group “will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Ghana, the Electoral Commission of Ghana, political parties and eventually to all Commonwealth governments.”

The statement indicated that a five-member team from the Secretariat led by Head of the Democracy Section in the Political Affairs Division, Mr Mark Stevens, will support the group.

Mr Sharma expressed hope that the conduct of the December elections in Ghana will extend the country’s good track record and further deepen its democratic culture.

“We hope these elections will build on the elections of 2008, which the Commonwealth also observed, and that all sides will engage peacefully and constructively throughout,” the Secretary-General said.

Mr Sharma constituted the Commonwealth Observer Group for the elections at the invitation of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

The Commonwealth Observers include:

The Hon Dr Bethuel Pakalitha Mosisili
Former Prime Minister
Lesotho (Chair)

Ambassador Shahed Akhtar
Former Ambassador

Ms Rochelle Lashley
Youth Representative / Attorney-At-Law

Mrs Josephine Tamai
Chief Elections Officer

Justice Tom Foulds
Magistrate, Ontario Court of Justice

The Hon Dr Joseph Misoi
Orange Democratic Movement of Kenya

Ms Koki Muli Grignon
Constitutional Law and Elections Expert

Mr Alberto Francisco Manhique
Director, Electoral Observatory

Dr Emmanuel Terwar Akem
Director, Independent National Electoral Commission

Ms Cynthia Barrow-Giles
Lecturer and Member of the Constitutional Reform Commission, University of the West Indies
St Lucia

Mr Vuyisile Sikelela Hlatshwayo
National Director, Media Institute of Southern Africa

Mr Max Marshall Caller
Electoral Commissioner, Chair of Local Government Boundary Commission for England
United Kingdom

Mrs Priscilla Isaac
Director of Elections, Electoral Commission of Zambia

By Ekow Quandzie

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