Former Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding will lead a Commonwealth group to observe Maldives Parliamentary Elections next month.

Despite withdrawing from the Commonwealth in 2016, Maldives recently expressed an interest in re-joining. As part of this process, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has requested a group observe the vote, scheduled for April 6.

The observer group’s report on the election will contribute to the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland’s informal assessment of the Maldives’ re-application.

The Secretary-General said: “I am extremely pleased to be deploying a group to observe the elections.

“Its report on the electoral process will give member countries a clear view of adherence to Commonwealth values in Maldives, including democracy and rule of law and protection of human rights such as freedom of expression.

“Our Heads of Government will then decide whether Maldives should be invited to make a formal application to re-join the Commonwealth.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth Observer Group, I wish the people of Maldives well as they embark upon this important step in strengthening the democratic culture of their country.”

The group will comprise eminent persons drawn from across the Commonwealth with backgrounds in election management, law, civil society, politics and diplomacy, among others.

The group will submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Maldives, Election Commission of Maldives, and political parties taking part in the elections and to the Governments of all Commonwealth member countries. Thereafter, the final report will be made public.

The group is expected to arrive in Maldives on March 30 and return on April 13. A Commonwealth Secretariat team led by Yvonne Apea-Mensah, Head of Africa at the Governance and Peace Directorate, will support the group.

Observers will receive briefings from the Election Commission of Maldives, political parties, civil society, media and those responsible for security, and various stakeholders.

Commonwealth Observer Groups were present for previous elections in Maldives in 2008, 2009 and 2013 while Bruce Golding led a Commonwealth Observer Group to Maldives Parliamentary Elections in 2014. The Group will be deployed to various provinces from 4 April and return to Male on 8 April to consider their report.