Head of Election Observer Team Steps Down in Last Minute

  • estus Gontebanye Mogae, Fmr President of the Republic of Botswana, in the interior monitoring elections..jpg
    Botswana ex-president Festus Gontebanye Mogae (centre) and Azimio Presidential candidate Raila Odinga during an election observation exercise in March 2015.
    Raila Odinga
  • The Chairperson of the Commonwealth Election observation group Festus Mogae has stepped down five days to the August 9, General Election.

    In a statement released on Wednesday, August 3, the Commonwealth Secretariat's communication team announced that the former Botswanan President had withdrawn from the group. The team cited unavoidable circumstances that were not disclosed. 

    He will be replaced by former Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who will lead the 20-member team.

    Former Botswanan President Festus Gontebanye Mogae addressing the press in Nairobi on February 28, 2013..jpg
    Former Commonwealth Election Observer and Ex-Botswanan President Festus Gontebanye Mogae addressing the press in Nairobi on February 28, 2013.
    Nation

    The team arrived in the country at the invitation of the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

    Mogae served as Botswana's president between 1998 and 2008 and has since his retirement led a number of election observer teams including the 2015 Lesotho election where he worked alongside Azimio presidential candidate Raila Odinga. 

    Golding, who has already touched down in the country, reiterated the Commonwealth's commitment and support for Kenya and the rights of the citizenry.

    "We know how important elections are in a democracy. We, therefore, hope our presence in Kenya serves as a reminder that the people of the Commonwealth stand together with Kenyans as they exercise their democratic rights," he remarked.

    The group comprises former chairs of electoral bodies in Africa and the world as well as eminent persons such as electoral commissioners, parliamentarians, gender, human rights and media experts. 

    Among them is the former Chair of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Nigeria,  Prof Mandla Mchunu, former Chief Election Officer in South Africa and Fern Narcis-Scope, the Chief Election Officer, Elections and Boundaries Commission in Trinidad and Tobago.

    The group was tasked with observing the electoral process from campaigns, opening and closing of polling stations, to voting, tallying and declaration of winners. 

    Notably, the observers will present a conclusive report on the General Election, but will first release a preliminary report on Thursday, August 11. 

    The Kenyan election also attracted several election observation teams such as the European Union, East African Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)and the African Union Observation Mission.

    An election observer from the Commonwealth observes a political rally during a previous election..jpg
    An election observer from the Commonwealth observes a political rally during a previous election.
    The Commonwealth