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Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, K.D. Knight, will head the Commonwealth Observer Group for the general election in the Fiji Islands scheduled from May 6 to 13.
A release from the Commonwealth Secretariat said that Secretary-General, Don McKinnon, made the announcement today (April 26).
Mr. Knight served as Jamaica’s Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister from November 2001 until his resignation in March this year.
The observer group will consist of six eminent persons, supported by three members of staff.
In addition to Mr. Knight, the other members of the group are: Paul Bengo, Registrar of Political Parties, Papua New Guinea; Reverend Canon Grace Kaiso, Chairman, Democracy Monitoring Group, Uganda; Rajabu Rashidi Kiravu, Director of Elections, National Electoral Commission, United Republic of Tanzania; Sheila Roseau, Executive Director, Directorate of Gender Affairs, Antigua and Barbuda; Beta Tewareka Tentoa, Member of Parliament, Kiribati.
On Monday, May 1, the observer group will hold a press conference in the Fiji Islands.
The Commonwealth Secretariat said the observers have been invited in their individual capacities and the views they express regarding the elections would be their own and not those of their respective Governments or of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The Commonwealth Secretary-General sent a Secretariat Assessment Mission in April 2006, following an invitation from the Prime Minister of the Fiji Islands, Laisenia Qarase.
This mission established that there would be broad support from the political parties and civil society for the presence of Commonwealth observers. The Secretary-General had sent an observer group to the last general elections in the Fiji Islands, held in 2001.
The Terms of Reference for the 2006 observer group are: to observe relevant aspects of the organisation and conduct of the general elections scheduled to take place from May 6 to 13, 2006, in accordance with the laws of the Fiji Islands; consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole; and to determine, in its own judgement, whether the conditions exist for a free expression of will by the electors and if the results of the elections reflect the wishes of the people.
The group is to submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of the Fiji Islands, the Electoral Commission, the leadership of the political parties taking part in the elections and thereafter to all Commonwealth Governments.