Leader of the Commonwealth Observer Group, General Yakubu Gowon, and members of the group have arrived in Zambia for the country’s elections due to be held on September 20, 2011.
The former Nigerian Head of State and members of his team, which was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, at the invitation of the President of Zambia, got to the country yesterday and stay till September 27.
“The Commonwealth has a long history of engagement with Zambia, and we are happy to observe these important elections”, the Secretary-General said. “We very much hope that these elections will further strengthen the democratic process in the country, and that all sides will engage peacefully and constructively throughout.”
The group’s mandate is to observe and consider all aspects of the process with a view to assessing compliance with the standards for democratic elections to which Zambia has committed itself.
Where appropriate, the team may also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework.
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’s report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Zambian Government, the Electoral Commission of Zambia, political parties, and eventually to all Commonwealth governments.
Meanwhile, the next meeting of Commonwealth finance ministers will be held in Washington DC, USA, on September 21, 2011. It will be held at the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) headquarters, and takes place during the annual meetings of the World Bank Group and the IMF.
The meeting, which takes place during a period of particular global economic and financial uncertainty, will address contemporary challenges for the Commonwealth’s membership.