Kenya polls: Former Botswana president to lead Commonwealth watchers


By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae will lead a team of Commonwealth election observers for Kenya’s elections scheduled for August 9.

Mogae, who ruled Botswana from 1998 to 2008, with a team of 20 poll watchers will arrive in Nairobi on August 2, the Commonwealth Secretariat announced on Tuesday.

Known as the Commonwealth Observer Group, it represents the “Club” of the United Kingdom and its former colonies, as well as Mozambique, Rwanda, Togo and Gabon; who have since joined the Commonwealth.

Zeinab Badawi, journalist and chair of the School of Oriental and African Studies in the UK, and Justice James Ogoola, former senior judge of the High Court of Uganda, are also part of the team.

Others are Dr Anne Gallagher, chief executive of the Commonwealth Foundation in Australia; Mr. Darrell Bradley, former Mayor of Belize City; Dr. Simon Munzu, former United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire; former Gambian lawmaker Halifa Sallah; and Mr. Jerald Joseph, former Commissioner for Human Rights in Malaysia.

In addition, the former Maltese Foreign Minister, Dr Evarist Bartolo; Maryan Street, former New Zealand Housing Minister; Ms. Idayat Hassan, Director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Nigeria; and Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission of Nigeria, are also part of the team.

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Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said the observers will help the Kenyan authorities’ efforts to make the elections transparent.

“Election observation is an essential component of our efforts to help member countries strengthen the processes, culture and institutions of democracy, and to enable citizen participation and representation at all levels,” he said. she said in a statement.

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The team will travel to Kenya at the invitation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Under-Secretary-General Dr Arjoon Suddhoo will be part of the preparatory team that will arrive on July 16 to “meet with key stakeholders, including the election management body, political parties, civil society groups, the media and other international observers.

“They will travel across the country to get a full picture of the conduct of the process and to observe the campaign and election preparations,” the Commonwealth said.

The Commonwealth said the full observer group will also include Nighat Dad, founder and executive director of Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan; Ms. Marcella Samba-Sesay, President of the National Elections Observatory of Sierra Leone; Professor Mandla Mchunu, former Chief Electoral Officer in South Africa; Dr. Victor Shale, Elections and Governance Expert from South Africa; Ms. Fern Narcis-Scope, Elections Officer at the Elections and Boundaries Commission in Trinidad and Tobago; Denise Kingsmill, British member of the House of Lords; Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom, Mr. Mark Stephens, British lawyer; and Dr. Chaloka Beyani, a Zambian legal expert.

The group’s recommendations on the election will not be binding, but are part of a tradition the 56-member group has established over the past 40 years, aimed at improving the conduct of polls.

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The Commonwealth Observer Group observed more than 160 polls in 40 member countries.

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