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Group of Commonwealth Observers are here in Nuku’alofa to observe the upcoming National Parliamentary Elections

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14th November, 2017 A Press Conference was held at Tano’a International Dateline Hotel yesterday afternoon lead by the Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, aimed to deliver their arrival statement regarding the upcoming national parliamentary elections on Thursday 16th November, 2017.

Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Hon. Margaret Wilson DNZM in her statement said their group was constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, following an invitation from the Prime Minister of Tonga.

“Our task as observers to consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. Accordingly, we are authorized to observe and evaluate the pre-election period, the poll, the count, and the declaration of results. We will assess whether the elections have been conducted according to the national laws of Tonga and to Commonwealth standards to which Tonga has committed itself.”

Hon. Margaret said that during their observation here in the Kingdom, they will not interfere with the process but they will only act with impartiality, objectivity and independence.

“Each of us have been invited to participate in this assignment in our individual capacities and we do not represent the countries or organizations to which we belong. Our presence here in Tonga is part of the organization’s strong commitment to work with all the member states to support their national democratic processes. Credible and peaceful elections that enable citizens to choose their leaders is at the heart of the Commonwealth Charter, which was adopted by Commonwealth Heads of Government in 2012”.

Since their arrival, the Commonwealth Observer Group have met with the Prime Minister, the Electoral Commission, some of the members from the Parliament, representatives from civil society, media council and the diplomatic community.

They will be meeting with a range of relevant stakeholders to the election process in the next few days.

Hon. Margaret said that on Wednesday, 15th November, she will deploy teams to the islands of Vava’u and Ha’apai, while she will observe the process here in Tongatapu.

“Our teams will observe the campaign, the poll, the count and the declaration of results. We will continue to work and consult closely with observers from the Pacific Islands Forum. Our Group will issue an Interim Statement of key findings shortly after the declaration of results. Therefore, and before our departure from Tonga on 20 November, we will prepare our final report”.

“This report of our assessment will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn forward it to the Government of Tonga, the Ministry of Justice, the Electoral Commission, and other stakeholders in Tonga. The report will be made publicly available throughout the Commonwealth”, she added.

Hon. Margaret concluded her statement by urging all registered votes in the Kingdom to turn up on Thursday 16 November to vote and participate peacefully in Tonga’s national parliamentary elections.

ENDS

Issued by the: Ministry of Meteorology, Energy, Information, Disaster Management, Environment, Climate Change & Communications.

 

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