Ingraham now working with the Christie Government!
By Oswald Brown
ATLANTA, Georgia — Former Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who is heading a Commonwealth Observer Group to Vanuatu for its General Election on January 22, 2016, was greeted by Bahamas Consul General to Atlanta Randy Rolle and Vice Consul Monique Vanderpool at Atlanta airport Wednesday afternoon, in transit to the island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of northern Australia.
The snap election is being held nine months ahead of schedule, following a period of political instability in which 14 Members of Parliament were convicted of bribery. The convictions led to a political deadlock between the Government and the Opposition, which prompted President Baldwin Lonsdale to dissolve Parliament.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma mobilised the Observer Group at the invitation of the Vanuatu Government. He said its work would complement the Commonwealth’s ongoing effort to support democracy in the country.
“The Commonwealth has a long history of assistance to Vanuatu,” Sharma said. “We have been working with the Government and with all political leaders to strengthen democratic processes and institutions in the country.” he stated.
Last year the Commonwealth facilitated a dialogue among political leaders that could lead to a roadmap for reform.
The Observer Group will contribute to this process by offering practical recommendations to strengthen Vanuatu’s electoral process based on their observations. The five-member team will examine pre-election preparations, voting and counting procedures and the announcement of results. They will assess any factor affecting the credibility of the elections and determine whether they were conducted according to international standards and the laws of Vanuatu.
The Observer Group will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Government of Vanuatu, the Electoral Commission and the principal political parties. It will subsequently be released online.
The observers will be supported by a four-member staff team, led by Albert Mariner of the Political Division of the Secretariat.
In addition to former Prime Minister Ingraham, the Observer Group includes Jane Prentice, MP, Federal Member for Ryan, Australia; Enrico Woolford, Editor-in-Chief, Capitol News, Guyana; Walter Rigamoto, Former Ombudsman and Supervisor of Elections, Fiji; and Jessica Nkuuhe, Gender, Peace and Security Expert, Uganda.