9 November, 2017. Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will deploy a Commonwealth Observer Group to observe general elections in Tonga, scheduled for 16 November 2017. This follows a formal invitation from the Government of Tonga.
In August 2017, King Tupou VI invoked Clause 38 of the Constitution to dissolve Tonga’s Legislative Assembly, and called for fresh elections to be held in November, more than a year before the planned date for the next elections.
“These elections are crucial for the people of Tonga as it strengthens the democratic process in the Kingdom,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “The Commonwealth observers will observe the elections and work closely with the observers from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in supporting Tonga’s democracy, national election and sharing best practice.”
Margaret Wilson, former Speaker of Parliament and Attorney-General of New Zealand, will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group. The group will consider the pre-electoral environment, the poll, the count and declaration of results.
As with all Commonwealth Observer Groups, it will function with impartiality and independence, and will conduct itself according to the standards set out in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.
The Group will submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn share it with the Government of Tonga, the Tongan Electoral Commission, Speaker of Parliament, relevant civil society organisations and eventually with all Commonwealth governments and the public.
The Commonwealth Observer Group will be in Tonga from 9 to 20 November 2017.