21 October 2004
|Voters during the recent election in Cameroon where the Commonwealth will help to strengthen democracy.|
During a speech to Commonwealth Law Ministers in London Mr McKinnon said, "the Observer Group Report's constructive recommendations provide fertile ground for continuing our engagement with the Government and people of Cameroon to strengthen democracy for the future."
The Observer Group Report says that "in a number of key areas the electoral process lacked the necessary credibility," but that even given this serious deficiency "the intention of those who voted was reflected in the results." In their main conclusions the Observers emphasised their concern "that many people who wished to vote were not on the Voters' Register, so were denied the right to vote."
The Group also made a number of recommendations, emphasising four in particular, that: there must be compliance with the law; there should be an independent election management body; the state and the ruling party need to be completely separate; and that election management and the work of the political parties must be separate.
The Secretary-General welcomed the Observer Group Report as "objective, balanced and constructive".
Note to Editors:
The Observer Group's Report is available here.
The Group, headed by former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, observed the election at the invitation of the Government of Cameroon and with the agreement of the political parties. Its Report was signed by the Observers in Cameroon before they left the country on Saturday 16 October, and then sent to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. In line with normal procedure he has sent it to the President of Cameroon, the political parties and Commonwealth Governments.
The Group comprised 16 eminent Observers and nine support staff from the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was present in Cameroon for two weeks and on election day was present in all ten provinces - at over 260 polling stations, 21 counts and nine collation centres.
The Group acknowledged the willing cooperation extended to it by the Cameroon authorities in enabling it to carry out its mandate.