Botswana’s former Minister of Foreign Affairs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is set to be part of a team of Commonwealth election observers to Nigeria, which will be holding Africa’s largest democratic exercise later this month when it holds general elections on 25 February 2023.
According to a statement from the Commonwealth office, former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki will lead the team of Commonwealth election observers.
The Commonwealth Observer Group comprises 16 eminent persons from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender equality and election administration. The full team is listed below.
The Commonwealth Observer Group members, in alphabetical order by country name, are:
H.E. Thabo Mbeki (Chairperson), Former President, South Africa
Ian Browne, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, Electoral and Boundaries Department, Barbados
Hon. Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Botswana
Dr Andrew Knight, Distinguished Professor, Fulbright scholar and expert in terrorism and security, Canada
Tara Chetty, Human rights and gender expert, Fiji
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, Institute for Democratic Governance, Ghana
Dr Mohamed Chambas, Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Ghana
Hon. Amina Mohamed, Former Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture, and former Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kenya
Linda Bonyo, Legal and data analytics expert, Kenya
Seabata Motsamai, Chairperson, Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations, Lesotho
Rt. Hon. Martin Ngoga, Former Speaker, East African Legislative Assembly, Rwanda
Hon. Sarah Flood-Beaubrun, Former House Assembly Speaker, Former Minister for Women Affairs and Former Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Saint Lucia
Dr Gregory Mills, Director, Brenthurst Foundation, South Africa
Josephine Karungi, Journalist, Uganda
Dr Alex Vines, Director, Africa Programme, Chatham House, United Kingdom
Kryticous Nshindano, Former Chief Electoral Officer, Zambia Electoral Commission, Zambia
Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, constituted the Commonwealth Observer Group following an invitation from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
As of January 2023, an estimated 93.4 million registered voters will have the right to cast ballots for presidential and national assembly candidates in 176,846 polling units across 774 local government areas.
Announcing the group, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said: “The Commonwealth remains a committed and reliable partner in Nigeria’s continuing journey towards peaceful democratic governance. Since 1999, we have observed all six general elections in Nigeria and the deployment of this observer group is a testament to the Commonwealth’s enduring support for the promotion of the culture, processes and institutions of democracy in Nigeria.
“In accordance with the values and principles of the Commonwealth Charter, the work of the group seeks to promote transparency, strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and protect the right of the people of Nigeria to participate in credible, transparent and inclusive elections to shape their society.
The mandate of the group, which is independent and impartial, is to observe the preparations for the election, the polling, counting and the results process, and the overall electoral environment. The observers will assess the conduct of the process as a whole and, where appropriate, make recommendations for the strengthening of the electoral system in Nigeria.