JIS News

A Commonwealth expert team, headed by former Foreign Affairs Minister, K. D. Knight, is now in Belize to observe that country’s February 7 elections.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Don McKinnon, said that the three-member team, which arrived in Belize on February 1 and will depart on February 12, was constituted at the behest of the Government of Belize. Their work will be supported by three Commonwealth Secretariat staff.
In addition to Mr. Knight, other members of the team are: Dr. Nemata Eshun-Baiden, founder and First President of the 50/50 Group, a civil society organization in Sierra Leone; and Robert Patterson, former Chief Electoral Officer of British Colombia, Canada. Juliet Solomon, Head of Caribbean/Pacific Section in the Political Affairs Division, will lead the Secretariat support staff. “The Commonwealth is very pleased to have been invited to these elections and to send a team to Belize for the first ever time” Mr. McKinnon said. He noted that, “these are important elections for the country and the fact that people will, at the same time, be voting in a referendum on whether or not to elect the Senate, is also highly significant.”
According to the Secretary-General, the mandate of the team is to observe preparations for the election, the polling, counting and results process, and the overall electoral environment.
Prior to departing Belize, the team will submit a report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, assessing the overall conduct of the election and making appropriate recommendations for future strengthening of the electoral process in Belize.
A release from the Commonwealth Secretariat said that the expert team will act impartially and independently and shall conduct itself according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.