A 10-member Commonwealth Observer Group, led by former Ghanaian Minister of Interior, Mr Prosper Bani, have been deployed to observe the Presidential Election in Sri Lanka which takes place on November 16, 2019.
Speaking after constituting the group, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “I want to thank Mr Bani and all the other members of the group for accepting my invitation to undertake this significant assignment on behalf of the Commonwealth."
“Conducting credible, inclusive and peaceful elections where citizens can choose their leaders and representatives freely is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and is enshrined in the Commonwealth Charter.”
The 2019 Sri Lankan Presidential Election will be the eighth Presidential Election and the first in which no sitting President, Prime Minister or Opposition leader is contesting.
Commonwealth observers will assess all factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process as a whole. They will consider the pre-electoral environment, the voting process, counting and tabulation procedures, and the result announcement.
The group is independent and will determine in its own judgement whether the election has been conducted according to the standards of Sri Lanka’s election-related legislation as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.
Observers will act impartially and will adhere to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will share it with the Government of Sri Lanka, its Electoral Commission, political parties and all Commonwealth Governments. The report will then be made public.
The Commonwealth Observer Group will be on the ground in Colombo from 10-22 November.
The full list of Observer Group members: former Minister of Interior (Ghana) Prosper Bani (Chair); former Deputy Electoral Commissioner (Australia) Paul Dacey; Senate President and CLGF Board member (Belize) Darrell Bradley; Young Diplomats of Canada Strategic Partnerships Advisor Sabrina Grover; Media and Communications Expert (New Zealand) Sarah Fradgley; Balochistan Provincial Assembly Member (Pakistan) Sana Ullah Baloch; National Commission for Human Rights Commission Chairperson (Rwanda) Madeleine Nirere; former Commonwealth Foundation Director-General (Trinidad and Tobago) Vijay Krishnarayan; former Ambassador (Uganda) Bernadette Olowo-Freers; International Gender and Development Specialist (United Kingdom) Dr. Meena Shivdas; and Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes Executive Director (Zambia) Boniface Cheembe.
Observers will be supported by a six-member staff team, led by the Commonwealth’s Governance and Peace Directorate Adviser and Head of Africa Yvonne Apea Mensah.
The Election Commission yesterday warned media organisations against the issuing of unofficial election results, saying that the announcing of such results obtained through regional reporters at previous elections had led to people’s trust in the election results being eroded.
“All electronic media, including television, satellite television, radio, online newspapers, other websites, Facebook, and mobile short message services, should refrain totally from telecasting unofficial results,” the EC said in a statement.
The Commission also said its permissions should be obtained to telecast/broadcast certified election results.
“Necessary arrangements will be made to issue certified results of each electorate immediately upon receipt, through a secured computer network, to electronic media institutions registered with the EC upon payment of a prescribed fee,” the EC said.
The Commission said those electronic media institutions that do not register with it should refrain from recasting the results, as they are being issued by the EC, warning that they will be tracked down and legal action taken against them.
“The decision of the EC will be final on issuing results,” the EC said, adding that all media organisations are expected to act in compliance with the order to disseminate only official results of the Presidential Election duly to the public, accurately and expeditiously.