Commonwealth to observe Sri Lanka’s presidential electoral process

The Commonwealth is deploying a team to observe the presidential election in Sri Lanka. A ten member Commonwealth Observer Group led by Prosper Bani, former Ghanaian minister of interior, will observe the polls which take place on 16 November.

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:

Mr Prosper Bani (Chair)
Former Minister of Interior, Ghana

Mr Paul Dacey
Former Deputy Electoral Commissioner, Australia

Mr Darrell Bradley
President of the Senate member of CLGF Board, Belize

Ms Sabrina Grover
Strategic Partnerships Advisor, Young Diplomats of Canada

Ms Sarah Fradgley
Media and Communications Expert, New Zealand

Hon Sana Ullah Baloch
Member Balochistan Provincial Assembly, Pakistan

Ms Madeleine Nirere
Chairperson, National Commission for Human Rights Commission, Rwanda

Mr Vijay Krishnarayan
Former Director-General, Commonwealth Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Amb Bernadette Olowo-Freers
Former Ambassador, Uganda

Dr Meena Shivdas
International Gender and Development Specialist, United Kingdom

Mr Boniface Cheembe
Executive Director, Southern African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes, Zambia

Observers will be supported by a six-member staff team, led by Yvonne Apea Mensah, adviser and head of Africa in the Commonwealth’s Governance and Peace Directorate.