The former president of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete, would lead the Commonwealth Observer Group for the forthcoming presidential and National Assembly elections in Nigeria scheduled for 16 February.
This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, Josephine Latu-Sanft.
The statement said that the observer group was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Other members include politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender and election administration from across the Commonwealth member countries.
According to Latu-Sanft an advance group of observers had already arrived Nigeria, while other members of the team are expected in Abuja on 8 February.
“The Commonwealth has a long history of observing elections in member countries, in solidarity with electors as they choose their leaders, and in support of efforts to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter. The Commonwealth
has observed the previous five elections in Nigeria, and I am pleased to be deploying so distinguished a group to again support the nation in its continuing journey of democratic development,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole.
It will assess whether the elections have been conducted in accordance with the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself, with reference to national legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments. Where appropriate, the Group can also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework.
The statement added that Commonwealth Observer Group would consider the pre-election environment and election preparations stressing that members would be deployed to various regions of the country where they will observe the voting, vote-counting and results procedures.