Mbeki to lead Commonwealth mission for Malawi elections

Former South African leader Thabo Mbeki will lead a Commonwealth group that will observe Malawi tripartite elections this month.

Voters go to the polls on 21 May to elect a president as well as members of the national assembly and local government councillors.

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) is being deployed by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland following a request from the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC).

The group includes politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender and election administration from across the Commonwealth.

Scotland said conducting credible elections through which citizens can choose their leaders and representatives freely in a peaceful environment is a fundamental part of a healthy democracy and a collective strength of Commonwealth member states.

“The Commonwealth will be present to witness and observe the elections and to work in partnership with Malawi as it consolidates its democracy and strengthens and embeds good practice.

“The responsibility for conducting elections with integrity falls on all stakeholders in the process – from the election management body, to political parties and their leaders, to civil society, security agencies, the media and the voters. Each and every one has a rightful role to ensure a credible process and outcome.”

The observer group will examine preparations for the elections, before observing the voting process, vote-counting procedures and the announcement of results.

As with all COGs, the Mbeki-led mission to Malawi will operate impartially and independently.

In the run-up to the elections, the Commonwealth partnered with the Government of Malawi to help prepare women to stand as candidates and to campaign in the elections, and trained media managers and editors in the process of fair and balanced election coverage.

The observer group will be supported by a Commonwealth Secretariat staff team led by Linford Andrews, Political Adviser in the Governance and Peace Directorate.