Thabo Mbeki Calls For Peaceful Elections In Nigeria
By Samuel Ouma
The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki, has urged the country’s political parties, candidates and their supporters to play their part in ensuring peaceful, transparent and credible elections slated for February 25, 2023.
The former President of South Africa spoke at a press conference in Abuja following the arrival of Commonwealth observers in Nigeria on February 18, 2023.
“This month’s elections will be Africa’s largest democratic exercise. The outcomes of the elections will be significant not only for Nigeria, but also for the entire continent. Therefore, we urge all stakeholders in Nigeria to uphold their commitment to ensure a peaceful and inclusive election in which the people of Nigeria are able to freely exercise their right to vote, with the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly fully respected,” said H.E Thabo Mbeki.
“Our mandate is to observe and assess the pre-election period, activities on polling day and the post-election period. Throughout, we will consider all factors relating to the credibility of the electoral process. We will assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Nigeria has committed itself … As we undertake this assessment and conduct our duties, we will be objective, independent and impartial,” he added.
Before Saturday, the group will receive briefings from the electoral authorities, political parties, the media and civil society groups representing women, youth and people with disabilities. This will enable the group better to understand the country’s situation ahead of the elections.
The observers will be deployed across the country to observe the pre-election preparations and voting, counting and results processes at polling stations.
The Chairperson will deliver an interim statement, which provides the group’s preliminary assessment of the electoral process, at a press conference on February 27 in Abuja.
After the elections, the group will submit its recommendations in a report to Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC. She will forward the report to the Government of Nigeria, the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission, the leadership of political parties taking part in the elections and all Commonwealth governments before being made public.
The Observer Group comprises 16 eminent persons from around the Commonwealth, including politicians, diplomats and experts in law, human rights, gender equality and election administration.