Ex-President Jonathan to Lead Commonwealth Mission to Observe Pakistan’s Elections

The Commonwealth has appointed former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as the head of its Election Observation Mission to Pakistan’s general election scheduled for February 8, 2024.

Jonathan will be leading a group of multidisciplinary experts from across the Commonwealth nations to observe the elections in Pakistan and offer an independent and comprehensive assessment of the electoral process.

In a letter to Jonathan, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, expressed her gratitude to the former Nigerian president for agreeing to undertake the assignment, adding that the Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) would benefit from his leadership, experience and wisdom.

The Commonwealth Secretariat in a statement said the 13-member Observer Group is due to arrive in Islamabad on February 1, and will remain in the country until the electoral process is completed.

It quoted the Commonwealth Secretary-General as applauding Pakistan’s commitment to transparency and accountability, adding that the organisation “is pleased to support Pakistan’s democratic journey” and looks forward to peaceful and fair elections.

Speaking further on the mission, Scotland said: “I am grateful that the former President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has once again accepted our invitation to serve as Chair of an election observer group. The team of observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the further strengthening of the electoral system.

“It is hoped that these recommendations will be of benefit to the people and government of Pakistan in strengthening their electoral processes. The Commonwealth Secretariat would be ready to assist with this process, if deemed necessary.”

She also called on all stakeholders, including political parties and their supporters, to contribute to a peaceful election in keeping with the Commonwealth values.

During their stay, the members of the observer group will be stationed throughout the country. The COG will be supported by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Mr. Linford Andrews, Adviser and Head of the Electoral Support Section.

The Commonwealth further stated that while in Pakistan, the members of the observer group will also meet with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from political parties, election officials, the media and civil society groups.

On Election Day, members of the COG will observe and consider all aspects of the election process across Pakistan- from the opening of polling stations and the voting process to the counting of ballots and announcement of results. Following Election Day, the group will hold a press conference and issue an interim statement with its preliminary findings.

The statement added that a final report, which will include recommendations to help improve future electoral processes, will be presented to the government of Pakistan and the election commission. The report will also be shared with other stakeholders.

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