21 int?l poll observers deployed in ARMM

The observers are from civil society organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

In a press statement, ANFREL, Asia’s only regional observation body supported by the  Canadian International Development Agency and The Asia Foundation, said it would like to see all political parties and candidates as well as stakeholders “run a credible election in a smooth and efficient manner” in the ARMM.

ARMM comprises the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur and the Islamic City of Marwi.

“Drawing from ANFREL’s experiences from many countries in Asia, ANFREL would like to express their appreciation to COMELEC (Commission on Elections) for its efforts in preparing the crucial election, administering the process, and accrediting international observers to observe in the country.  ANFREL supports and encourages civil society groups like PPCRV, NAMFREL (National Movement on Free Elections) and IPER (Institute for Political and Electoral Reform) and local organizations throughout the country to exercise their rights and play their role through monitoring the election in order to lead the country and champion democracy,” it said.

The group said that in the run-up to election day, they would like to see:

– how effective it is to have synchronized elections in one day. “How does the COMELEC in all levels facilitate the voters and implement the electoral laws and regulations?   Are there any improvement from the previous elections regarding the prevention of electoral violation, technical problems, voter education and civic education etc.?.” ANFREL asked.

– a peaceful and smooth-running election process; that all measures be taken to prevent electoral violence before, during and after the polling day.

– that all candidates, party leaders, party agents and supporters cooperate with each other and COMELEC to ensure peaceful and smooth running election processes’

  that government officials, police and military as well as community leaders and religious leaders “are able to be neutral.”

 that the culture of corruption is eliminated and no money is given for vote-buying. “Candidates should gain their popularity by their legitimate activities and long-term work for people,” it said.

  that illiterate voters and new voters are informed about the process of election and the candidates in their constituencies and that they be encouraged to go out to vote.

– that there will be a clean outcome and no manipulation of the electoral results as ANFRE calls on all stakeholders “to adhere to the principle of genuine democracy and the reputation of the country.”