Jagdeo to lead Commonwealth Observer team for Sri Lanka polls

Jagdeo to lead Commonwealth Observer team for Sri Lanka polls

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma on Monday announced that former Guyana President Bharrat Jagdeo will  lead the Commonwealth Observer Mission to overlook the Presidential elections in Sri Lanka in January, 2015.

Jagdeo was Guyana’s longest serving President. He became President in 1999 after Mrs. Janet Jagan was forced to step down from office because of ill health. His presidency lasted until 2011 as the laws of the country barred him from seeking a third term.

According to a report in the Colombo Gazette, Sharma said the Commonwealth Observer Group’s trip to Sri Lanka, is as a result of the formal invitation from Sri Lanka’s Commissioner of Elections, Mahinda Deshapriya.

“Sharma reiterated the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory. He said that genuine democratic elections are an expression of sovereignty, which belongs to the people of a country, the free expression of whose will provide the basis for the authority and legitimacy of government.

“Sri Lanka has among the oldest democratic traditions in the Commonwealth. The people of Sri Lanka should be able to freely exercise their franchise, in an enabling environment marked by transparency, a level playing field, and adherence to the laws and norms that govern a credible and peaceful election. For this, key stakeholders must play their due roles,” he said.

The Commonwealth Group will consider the pre-electoral environment and preparations. On election day and thereafter, members will observe the voting process, counting and tabulation procedures and the announcement of results. The Group will act impartially and make an independent assessment of the electoral process. It will conduct itself according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation to which Sri Lanka has committed itself.

Upon completion of its assignment, the Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Sri Lanka, the Commissioner of Elections and the principal political parties, before making it available to all Commonwealth Governments, and eventually releasing it into the public domain.

The nine Observers will be in Sri Lanka from 2 to 14 January 2015. A five-member team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Ms Katalaina Sapolu, Director of the Rule of Law Division, will support them.

The full composition of the Commonwealth Observer Group is:

Dr Bharrat Jagdeo (Chair)

Former President


Ms Maria Chin Abdullah

The Coalition of Free and Fair Elections


Dr Campbell Gordon Calder

Former Member of Parliament

New Zealand

Mr Qamar Zaman Kaira 

Former Minister and Member of Parliament


Mr Eldred De Klerk

Rule of law and elections security expert

South Africa

Dr Sally Kosgei

Former Minister and Member of Parliament


Ms Sa-adatu Maida

Election Commissioner


Mr Brij Bihari Tandon

Former Election Commissioner of India


Ms Lainy Malkani

Media Expert

United Kingdom

(Colombo Gazette)”

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