Former Liberian president, Amos Sawyer has led about 70 African Union’s Election Observer team for the March 28 and April 11 general elections in Nigeria. His team is among the 10-member election monitoring team which also arrived in Nigeria today from the Commonwealth.
Former Malawian President and Chairman of the group, Dr. Bakili Muluzi, briefed newsmen in Abuja, said: “the group was constituted by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma following an invitation from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“Our team includes current and former politicians and members of parliament, serving members of national electoral commissions, as well as representatives of civil society, young people and the media.
“Our Commonwealth Observer Group arrived on 21st of March; our mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, activities on polling day and the post-election period.
“Throughout, we will consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral processes.
“We will assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself, including the constitutional framework and the other international commitments.
“As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent and impartial.”
Muluzi said that the group would liaise with other observer missions in the country to “understand their experiences and exchange ideas and information.”
He added that the group would issue a statement shortly after the elections and a report would be submitted thereafter to the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
“The report will be sent to the government of Nigeria, the Independent National Electoral Commission and leaders of other political parties and then to all Commonwealth Governments, before being released to the public.
“When we make our observations known, our intent is to offer constructive support to help strengthen and consolidate the democratic process in Nigeria.
“In so doing, the Commonwealth Observer Group will make recommendations to the authorities concerned on institutional, procedural and other matters as would assist the holding of such elections in the future,” he said.
Muluzi, however, said the group would “not take the risk” to deploy members to the North-Eastern part of the country due to security concerns.
He said the group had met with the INEC Chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega, to inform the commission of the preparations it had made for covering the elections.
According to him, the group will also meet with relevant stakeholders in the coming days.
Also, the AU Commission Chairperson, Dlamini Zuma said yesterday in Addis Ababa that its 70-AU African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) has arrived in Abuja
Zuma said the delegation is led by former Liberian interim president, Amos Sawyer.
Zuma said Sawyer is being assisted by Mr. Ibrahima Fall, former UN Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senegal.
She said members of the delegation were drawn from across Africa and would be in Nigeria for the period of the election, March 28 and April 11.
Zuma said the delegation was sent to Nigeria on the invitation of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“The 70-man Short-Term Observers were drawn from various African countries and the Pan-African Parliament to complement the work of the LTOs on Election Day.“