Sept 11, Colombo: The Commonwealth will send a four-member team to observe Sri Lanka's landmark elections for the Northern Provincial Council scheduled for 21 September, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma announced Tuesday.
The Commonwealth Observation Mission team chaired by former Vice President of Kenya Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka will be in the country from 14 to 28 September.
The other three members of the team are Former Electoral Officer for Victoria, Australia Ms. Jenni McMullan, Former Chief Election Commissioner of Bangladesh Dr Shamsul Huda and Secretary, Caribbean Association of Local Government Authorities Saint Lucia Ms. Examin Philbert.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General has constituted the mission at the invitation of Sri Lanka's Commissioner of Elections Mahinda Deshapriya.
"The Commonwealth Observer Mission's mandate is to observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process and assess compliance with the standards for democratic elections to which Sri Lanka has committed itself. Where appropriate, the mission may also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework," the Secretariat said.
Commonwealth observer missions act impartially and independently and conduct themselves according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
Commenting on the landmark elections in Sri Lanka's Northern Province, the Secretary-General said he hopes the elections would be free and fair.
"It is my hope that they will proceed peacefully and be held on a level playing field, in an environment where the electors can freely exercise their franchise," he added.
The four-member mission, which will be in the island from the 14 to 28 September, will be based mainly in Jaffna. A three-person support team deployed from the Commonwealth Secretariat will support the mission. Martin Kasirye, Head of the Democracy Section of the Secretariat's Political Affairs Division, will lead the support team, the Secretariat announced.
The mission will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Sri Lanka, the Office of the Commissioner of Elections, relevant Sri Lankan political parties and eventually to all Commonwealth governments.