13 Commonwealth experts set to observe Pakistan’s elections
ISLAMABAD: (Web Desk) The group of eminent experts from across the Commonwealth have arrived in Pakistan and will be present in the country throughout the electoral process.
“As the country goes to the polls on 8 February 2024, 128 million people have the right to vote in Pakistan,” said a statement issued by Charmaine Wright, the head of Media Relations, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat.
It added that former Nigerian President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, accepted the invitation from Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG).
In the group’s arrival statement, Dr Goodluck Jonathan said, “It is my honour and privilege to have been asked by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, to lead the Commonwealth Observer Group to Pakistan’s General Elections 2024, and to be here in the country for this election.”
“I am grateful to be joined by twelve experts selected from across the Commonwealth. They bring together a diversity of experience, in the fields of elections, law, civil society, politics, human rights, and the media, amongst others. The group’s presence reaffirms the Commonwealth’s solidarity with Pakistan and its democratic processes.”
The members of the COG were deployed by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, following an invitation from the Election Commission of Pakistan. The observers have assembled in the country and will have commenced their stakeholder briefings, including meeting with political parties, the police, civil society groups, citizen observer and monitor groups, the media, as well as the Election Commission of Pakistan.
The COG’s mandate, as set out in the Revised Commonwealth Guidelines for the Conduct of Election Observation in Member Countries, is to observe and evaluate all aspects of the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period.
They will consider whether conditions exist for a credible, transparent, and inclusive election, including an analysis of media rights, freedom and obligations; conditions for a level playing field for candidates; and the country’s adherence to domestic and international norms in the administration of the electoral process.
In accordance with the provisions of the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth Secretariat is a signatory organisation, the group has no executive role; its function is not to supervise but to observe the process as a whole and to give recommendations accordingly. In conducting their duties and undertaking this assessment, the COG will be neutral, impartial, objective, and independent.
Thirty-three per cent of the two billion voters in all the elections taking place in 2024 will be from the Commonwealth, in a year when 60 countries hold elections.
From 6 February, the observers will deploy in small teams around the country to observe electoral preparations and meet with local stakeholders in their respective locations.
On Election Day, the Commonwealth Observer Group will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and results management processes, before issuing an interim statement on its preliminary findings on 10 February 2024.