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John Mahama heads Commonwealth Observer Mission in Kenya

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Former President John Mahama is in Kenya as part of Commonwealth Observer Mission to monitor the East African country’s August 8 elections.

The former President heads the 15-member Observer Mission which includes journalists and former diplomats from Commonwealth member countries.

At a press briefing in Nairobi Thursday, Mr Mahama explained, “our presence here affirms the support of the Commonwealth to Kenya and its democratic processes.”

He assured the political parties and Kenyans, their observation role will be undertaken in an impartial and transparent manner.

“We will seek to assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period against the backdrop of Kenya’s national legislation and regulations as well as regional and international commitments,” Mr Mahama told the media.

The East African country is yet to recover from the political and economic crisis it was plunged into following the declaration of former President Mwai Kibaki as the winner of December 27, 2007, presidential election.

The post-2007-2008 election violence reportedly left at least 1,200 people dead after a brutal police response to protests combined with ethnic killings.

Current Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta and his vice, William Ruto were linked to the killings leading to the International Criminal Court (ICC) laying charges against them.

But the crimes against humanity laid on them were withdrawn for want of evidence, the Hague-based court said in December 2014.

In their bid to avoid a repeat of the 2007-2008 post-election clashes, the Commonwealth Observers said they will “observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.”

Mindful of the significance of the elections to Kenyans, Mr Mahama said their presence is to affirm the support of Commonwealth to Kenya and its democratic processes.

The observers will be deployed to various locations across the country on August 5, 2017, the former Ghanaian leader said.

“They will be in small teams and will arrive to observe preparations ahead of polling day and meet with political parties, the police, election officials and other stakeholders in their respective locations,” Mr Mahama said.

The full list of Commonwealth observers is:

Chairperson:
His Excellency John Dramani Mahama
Former President of the Republic of Ghana

Members: (in alphabetical order of nationality)

Ms Natasha Stott Despoja
Former Ambassador, Senator and Party Leader
Australia

Professor Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo
Former Minister of External Relations
Cameroon

Mr Christopher Cobb
Journalist/Electoral Communication Specialist
Canada

Ms Pauline Welsh,
Director of Legal Affairs
Electoral Commission of Jamaica

Mrs Nana Asantewa Afadzinu
Executive Director, West Africa Civil Society Institute
Ghana

Professor Aishah Bidin
Law Professor and Human Rights Commissioner
Malaysia

Mr Solomon Akintola Oyateru
Ambassador (Retired)
Nigeria

Hon Gideon Kayinamura
Ambassador (Retired)
Rwanda

Ms Angelique Pouponneau
Vice-Chairperson for Inclusion and Engagement
Commonwealth Youth Council
Seychelles

Mr Glen Mashinini
Chairperson/Commissioner
Electoral Commission of South Africa

Ms Elizabeth Lwanga King
Development Advisor
Uganda

Hon Canon Justice James Ogoola
Chairman
The Elders Forum of Uganda

Baroness Sandip Verma
Parliamentarian
United Kingdom

Hon Justice Damian Zefren Lubuva
Former Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Justice at the Court of Appeal, and Chairman of the National Electoral Commission
United Republic of Tanzania.

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