Former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, will lead a team of Commonwealth election observers to Nigeria, which will be holding Africa’s largest democratic exercise later this month when it holds general elections on 25 February 2023.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, constituted the Commonwealth Observer Group following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
Announcing the group, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said: “The Commonwealth remains a committed and reliable partner in Nigeria’s continuing journey towards peaceful democratic governance. Since 1999, we have observed all six general elections in Nigeria and the deployment of this observer group is a testament to the Commonwealth’s enduring support for the promotion of the culture, processes and institutions of democracy in Nigeria.
“In accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, the work of the group seeks to promote transparency, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and protect the right of the people of Nigeria to participate in credible, transparent and inclusive elections to shape their society.
“This month’s elections hold immense significance not just for Nigeria, but for the entire African continent and the wider democratic world. It is, therefore, essential that all stakeholders in Nigeria reaffirm their shared commitment to ensuring a peaceful election environment which is conducive to the free exercise of people’s franchise and in which fundamental freedoms and rights are respected.”
She also expressed her appreciation to President Mbeki for accepting her invitation to lead the group and to each observer for agreeing to undertake this important assignment on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The mandate of the group, which is independent and impartial, is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment. The observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the strengthening of the electoral system in Nigeria.
The Commonwealth Observer Group is comprised of 16 eminent persons from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender equality and election administration.
The observers will be in Nigeria from February 18 to March 2.