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Lusaka, Friday 5, 2016: COMESA has deployed election observers to Zambia for the August 11, General Election and Referendum Vote. The observers comprise representatives from eight COMESA Member States and national Electoral Management bodies.

Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed, a member of the COMESA Committee of Elders who is the mission leader officially flagged-off the 30 member team of observers at the COMESA Secretariat. This follows an invitation by the Government of Zambia. The observers are drawn from Kenya, Sudan, Egypt, Burundi, Malawi, Zimbabwe, DRC and Rwanda.

Eleven teams will be dispatched to six out of the ten provinces in Zambia, namely Northern, North-Western, Eastern, Southern, Central and Lusaka Province.
Speaking at the launch Amb. Rashed said the objective of the mission was to support the consolidation of democracy in Zambia.

“We have been observing elections for ten years since 2006 and we have so far observed over 20 elections in 13 member states,” he said.

The team will observe various phases of the electoral cycle including the campaigns, voting, vote counting and declaration of results. It will consult with electoral stakeholders including political parties, providers of security, the Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ), civil society organizations, academia and the media.

The team will also exchange views with other election observer missions and the diplomatic community.

Prior to the official launch, a section of the observers had conducted pre-elections missions to the Copperbelt, Eastern and Southern Provinces in June and July 2016.

COMESA draws its mandate to observe elections from one of the Fundamental Principles of COMESA as enshrined in Article 6(h) of the COMESA Treaty, which is “the promotion and sustenance of a democratic system of governance in the Member States.”

As an observer mission, COMESA will be primarily guided by the constitution and legal framework of the Republic of Zambia, and relevant international and regional instruments including the COMESA Guidelines on Election Observation.

All the members of the mission will undergo training, which will not only guide them on the legal frameworks of Zambia, but also provide them with the necessary election observation skills and tools.

Ambassadors, High Commissioners and diplomatic staff from COMESA Member States based in Lusaka attended the launch.