Ex-Ghana president to head Commonwealth observer mission to Zimbabwe

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By Agencies

FORMER Ghanaian president John Mahama will lead a Commonwealth observer mission for Zimbabwe’s general elections set for 30 July, the grouping of former British colonies announced on Wednesday.

Commonwealth secretary general Patricia Scotland said Thursday that the Commonwealth Observer Group is expected to arrive in Zimbabwe on July 23.

It will be supported by a nine-member staff team from the Commonwealth Secretariat led by Katalaina Sapolu, head of the Governance and Peace Directorate.

“I am extremely pleased to be deploying a group to observe the elections,” Scotland said in a statement.  

The observer mission will include former Ghanaian foreign minister Hanna Tetteh, ex-Commonwealth deputy secretary general Gary Dunn, Commonwealth Local Government Forum board chairperson Mpho Moruakgomo of Botswana and Janet Love of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa.

Other members of the mission will be Lord Robert Hayward and Baroness Margaret Jay, both members of the United Kingdom’s House of Lords, and Fonkam Azu’u, former chairman of Cameroon’s Electoral Board.

Zimbabwe is not a member of the Commonwealth after it withdrew from the organisation in 2003. This followed the country’s suspension from the group for being in breach of the Harare Declaration, which sets out the Commonwealth’s core principles and values.

However in May this year, President Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote to the Commonwealth secretary general expressing an interest in re-joining the association, and requesting the group to observe the forthcoming Zimbabwe elections.