A Commonwealth Observation Group (COG) has arrived in Dominica to observe the upcoming elections.
The COG arrived in the country on Nov. 27 following an invitation from Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to observe general elections scheduled for Friday, Dec. 6.
COG members will meet with stakeholders, including election management officials, representatives of political parties, civil society groups and others, and will deploy to observe the election environment, including related court proceedings and polling day preparations.
Group chairperson Zainab Bangura is the former Sierra Leone Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations.
In an arrival statement she said: “Our presence in Dominica affirms the support of the Commonwealth to Dominica and its democratic processes.
“The group’s assessment will be its own and not that of any other individual, institution or country.”
Election observation is a core Commonwealth role undertaken with impartiality, independence and transparency.
This role is in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Revised Commonwealth Guidelines for the Observation of Elections in Member Countries which was agreed by Commonwealth Heads of Governments in 2018.
COGs are made up of people from various regions of the Commonwealth bringing a wealth of experience with regards to political, social and legal issues.
The COG is made up of the following members:
- Zainab Bangura (Chairperson), former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Sierra Leone and former Under-Secretary-General at the United Nations.
- Assad Shoman, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Belize.
- Justice James Ogoola, former Principal Judge of the High Court of Uganda, a Justice of COMESA and a Member of Uganda’s Elders Council.
- Angela Taylor, Chief Elections Officer, Barbados.
- Peter Wardle, former Chief Executive of the UK Electoral Commission, United Kingdom.
- Wyvolyn Gager, former Editor-in-Chief of The Jamaica Gleaner Company.
- Regina Opondo, Attorney-at-law and Executive Secretary, Constitution and Reform Education Consortium, Kenya.
- Major Stanley Ford, formerly of the Jamaica Defence Force.
- Lebrechtta Oye Hesse Bayne, Gender Specialist, Antigua and Barbuda.
- Kishva Ambigapathy, Former Chair of the Commonwealth Youth Council, Malaysia.
On election day the group will observe opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management process until its departure on Dec 13.
It will issue an interim statement of its preliminary findings shortly after Dec 6.