SADC despatches Madagascar observer mission
Gaborone – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has deployed its observer mission for the presidential and parliamentary elections in Madagascar. The Malagasy went to the polls last Friday, October 25, for the first round of presidential elections and are expected to return the polls for the parliamentary and possible presidential run-off on December 20.
The Indian Ocean island and former French colony has been in political chaos since 2009 following the ouster of former democratically elected president Marc Ravalomanana.
The SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM) consists of 300 observers under different electoral ballots with 7.7 million voters registered for elections.
The SADC secretariat, said in a statement that SEOM would be guided by various instruments, which would include the SADC Treaty, the SADC Protocol Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, as well the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.
These instruments, according to the Secretariat – not only provided guidance and benchmarks for shared political and democratic values, but were also commitments by member states to hold democratic elections in a peaceful, free, fair, transparent and credible manner.
SADC has urged presidential candidates contesting the elections to exercise tolerance and restraint in order to ensure adherence to the guidelines and principles of elections. In the same vein, SADC encouraged Malagasy people to exercise their fundamental political and democratic right, by going out in big numbers to cast their votes.
The first round of the presidential election took place on October 25, with 33 candidates. The newly appointed SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence said the regional body accords greater importance to the current elections in Madagascar.
Deployment of SADC observers in Madagascar is in accordance with the provisions of the SADC Treaty', SADC Protocol on Politics, Defense and Security Co-operation and SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, Dr Lawrence explained.
“To that effect, the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, His Excellency Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia, has constituted the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to observe the Republic of Madagascar Presidential Elections scheduled for 25 October, 2013,” she said.
To reach this impressive stage of elections, Lawrence said, a lot of efforts were deployed by all parties engaged in the quest for a solution to achieve durable peace in Madagascar.
“At this juncture, let me take this opportunity to extend our appreciations for the efforts by all parties to the Roadmap, the Malagasy people, the SADC Mediator, the African Union (AU); United Nations (UN); the International Contact Group on Madagascar (ICGM) the International Community in general, and the public at large, for the tireless efforts and progress made in the implementation of the Roadmap,” she said.
She observed that efforts by all parties and a number of stakeholders have indeed yielded tangible results, thus enabling the holding of the forthcoming elections.