Mozambique: Commonwealth Observers Arrive

Maputo — A team of 11 observers from the Commonwealth, headed by the former President of Sierra Leone, Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has arrived in Maputo to observe Mozambique's general and provincial elections, scheduled for next Wednesday.

At a Friday press conference, Kabbah stressed that "democracy and good governance are core Commonwealth principles, and ones which our observer group has been constituted to promote and uphold".

The observers would "consider all the factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole, and assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Mozambique has committed itself", he added.

Kabbah pledged that the Commonwealth observers "will be neutral, impartial, objective and independent". The observers do not represent any Commonwealth government, but are participating in the mission "in their individual capacities as eminent Commonwealth citizens".

He said that if the group makes any criticism "it will be constructive, with the intent to help further strengthen the democratic process".

Given the small size of the group, it will only deploy to eight of Mozambique's eleven provinces, leaving out three of the smaller provinces (Inhambane, Manica and Niassa). The observers will concentrate on major population centres, and on areas where there were serious problems in the last general elections, in 2004.

Kabbah said the mission hopes to issue an interim statement two or three days after the election.

The observers include parliamentarians, election commission members, media professionals, academics and members of civil society bodies from 11 Commonwealth countries on four continents.

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