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The Melanesian Spearhead Group Observer Group (MSGOG) had issued a preliminary statement providing a summary of their observations of the 2020 Vanuatu general elections.
The MSGOG was mobilised following the invitation by the Vanuatu Government and had been in the country since 17 March 2020 to observe preparations towards elections, the actual polling on 19 March including the counting processes.
MSGOG Team leader, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said that despite the prevailing challenges posed by the current global pandemic of COVID 19, the MSGOG managed to put in extra efforts to observe the elections in and around Efate Islands, Tanna Island, Malekula Island and Santo Island.
“The MSGOG was committed to observe the Vanuatu National General Election in honour of the invitation extended to us by the Government and to deploy our Observers to some remote parts of the country, even under challenging circumstances” said Ratu Kubuabola.
Ratu Inoke highlighted that the MSGOG was accorded unhindered access to polling stations and were able to interact freely with polling officials, political party agents/observers, security personnel as well as the other election observers during the course of the observation.
“Our observers were able to obtain a broad view of the election process and its administration as required under the election laws of Vanuatu. This had helped inform the way we carried out our observation tasks, while always strictly adhering to the Code of Conduct provided by the Vanuatu Electoral Commission (VEC) and to which we subscribed to”, he added. He further stated that during the visits of our teams to the polling stations in the Constituencies, we covered, we witnessed firsthand the peaceful, courteous and free manner in which the voters conducted themselves during polling.
While the details of the Observation will be produced later, the preliminary report noted that the Vanuatu National General Elections were embraced by citizens. Some administrative and logistical issues continued to pose challenges for polling officials and electoral staff. These relates to the better cleaning up of the electoral roll, safe and early transportation of ballot boxes, comprehensive educational awareness of voters' rights and voting processes, thorough training to familiarise all presiding officials and polling officials with the voting processes and electoral laws, rights and responsibilities of political party observers/agents, standardisation of the set-up of polling stations, consistency in the administration of the voting process, and further simplifying the counting system.
The MSGOG Team Leader stated, that despite the challenges mentioned above, the MSGOG are pleased to note that the polling stations visited were manned by committed polling officials and security personnel who performed their duties as best they could and we commend them for their commitment.
On behalf of the MSG Observer Group, he expressed sincere appreciation to the Government of Vanuatu for the honour of inviting the MSGOG to participate in the important political process as Observers. The MSGOG is pleased to have participated in an important political exercise that further affirms Vanuatu Government's adherence to democracy and the underlying principle of governing through a mandate from the people, he added.
Meanwhile, the MSG Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli, while congratulating the MSGOG for the successful undertaking, stated that the election observation to Members is in line with the MSG Leaders’ Mandate under the 2038 “Prosperity for All Plan”. This Plan calls for the Members to work closely to strengthen our national and sub-regional cooperation not only in people to people relationships, and trade and investment but in the area of good governance and strengthening of democratic processes for the well-being of our nations and citizens”, he said.
Ambassador Yauvoli, reiterated that the MSGOG have conducted successful observation in the past in other MSG Members, and for Vanuatu in particular, it will be the second time that the election observation was conducted after the snap election in January 2016.
Other successful election observation included, the Papua New Guinea Elections in June/July 2017, Fiji Elections in November 2018, and the Solomon Islands Elections in April 2019.
SOURCE: MSG SECRETARIAT/PACNEWS
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