Sierra Leone: Former Ugandan Foreign Minister Leads Commonwealth Observer Group for Elections

press release

The Commonwealth will observe Sierra Leone’s National and Local Government Elections on 17 November 2012.

Former Ugandan Foreign Minister Olara Otunnu will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group, which will be made up of nine observers, supported by five Commonwealth Secretariat staff.

Mr Otunnu, a former United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, will arrive in the capital, Freetown, on 11 November.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma constituted the Observer Group at the invitation of the Government of Sierra Leone.

“The Commonwealth has a long history of engagement in Sierra Leone and our presence on the ground confirms our commitment to strengthening democracy in the country,” Mr Sharma said.

These elections will be Sierra Leone’s third since its decade-long conflict ended in 2002. The Commonwealth also observed elections in the country in 2002 and 2007.

The Commonwealth Observer Group’s mandate is to observe and consider all aspects of the election process and assess compliance with the standards for democratic elections to which Sierra Leone has committed. Where appropriate, the Group may also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the country's electoral framework.

The Observer Group is impartial and independent and will conduct itself according to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Elections Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory. It will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Sierra Leone, the National Election Commission of Sierra Leone, political parties and eventually to all Commonwealth governments.

The Commonwealth Observer Group is expected to arrive in Sierra Leone on 9 November and to stay in the country until 25 November.

Staff Team Leader

Linford Andrews

Head of Office, Deputy Secretary-General

Commonwealth Secretariat

Tel: +44 (0) 752 539 2496

Email: l.andrews@commonwealth.int

Media Contact

Victoria Holdsworth

Communications and Public Affairs Division

Commonwealth Secretariat

Tel: +44 (0) 789 459 3520

Email: v.holdsworth@commonwealth.int

Composition of the Group

Chair: Olara Otunnu, former Ambassador of Uganda to the United Nations and UN Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict

Paul Dacey

Former Deputy Electoral Commissioner

Australia

Martha Sayed

Deputy Secretary, Independent Electoral Commission

Botswana

Pauline Welsh

Director of Legal Affairs, Electoral Office

Jamaica

Jane Godia

Media and Gender Expert

Kenya

Counsellor Justus Kangwagye

Mayor, Rulindo District

Rwanda

Andrew Simmons

Development Consultant

St Vincent

Rita Payne

Media Expert

United Kingdom

Dennis Ngosa

National Youth Co-ordinator

Zambia

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