Tuesday, 27 July 2010 9:22 AM

Election Observers: Eyes and Ears of Election

Over sixty local observers have been briefed by the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission in preparation for the upcoming National General Election.

Last Thursday, Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Polycarp Haununu, told the election observers that their role was to 'witness' the conduct of the election on polling day as well as during the count. He urged them to play their part in improving the electoral process in Solomon Islands.

"Election observers are the eyes and ears of the election, but they must not interfere in the actual conduct of voters on polling day," Mr Haununu said.

"By visiting and observing polling stations and counting stations and then submitting a report to the Electoral Commission, observers are independent watchdogs on the election process."

Mr Haununu said that election observer reports would be an important part of the Electoral Commission's election reform program.

"We need to all work together to improve current electoral laws, especially those that govern voter registration, to ensure a better election for Solomon Islands voters," Mr Haununu said.

Local NGO, Development Services Exchange, coordinated the training workshop for the 60 election observers, who will now go to the provinces and train election observers for their area.

The total number of local observers is expected to be about 300 people.

The Electoral Commission provided a briefing to all participants on the Code of Conduct which all accredited observers must sign and observe during their duty.

"The Code of Conduct says that all observers must act professionally, be impartial and not favour anyone in performing their duty, and must respect the law and electoral process," Mr Haununu said.

"Observers are independent of the Electoral Commission, but must be accredited by the Office of the Electoral Commission."

"The Code of Conduct ensures that observers understand their role and responsibility on election day which is to assist in transparent election process."

The Electoral Commission will also be providing a briefing to over 50 international observers from Japan, Australia, New Zealand, United States and the Pacific Islands Forum who are coming to Solomon Islands to observe the election.

Mr Haununu said that the world was watching Solomon Islands as it conducts it's ninth National General Election.

"The election is an important democratic process and both the citizens of Solomon Islands and representatives from the international community are keen to see it conducted in a free and fair manner - which is the aim of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission.


Source: Press Release, Electoral Commission