Commonwealth calls for credible and inclusive poll in Sri Lanka

A group deployed by the Commonwealth to observe the presidential election in Sri Lanka has called on stakeholders to demonstrate commitment to a “peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive” poll.

The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG), whose members are drawn from various Commonwealth regions with backgrounds ranging from political, electoral, civil society and human rights as well as legal fields, was invited by the Sri Lankan Election Commission to observe the 16 November poll.

The COG will receive briefings from relevant stakeholders including election management officials, representatives of political parties, civil society groups, the police, members of the international community and citizen and international observers.

In a statement, Chair of the COG, Mr Prosper Bani said: “As independent observers, we will remain objective and impartial in discharging our duties. The Group’s assessment will be its own and not that of any Commonwealth member country.

“We hope that our group’s presence will support the strengthening of democracy in Sri Lanka”.

The former Ghanaian interior minister added that the group’s mandate is to observe and evaluate the pre-election environment, polling day as well as the post-election period.

“The responsibility to act with integrity rests with all stakeholders, from the Election Commission, political parties, media, security agencies, civil society and voters,” he said.

On Thursday, observers will deploy to various provinces across the country to observe preparations ahead of polling day.

Subsequently, they will observe the opening of polls, voting, counting and the management of results from election day until their departure from Sri Lanka on 22nd November.

The COG will issue an Interim Statement of its preliminary findings shortly after 16 November. The final report will be submitted to the Secretary-General and made available to the public afterwards.

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