Chief Referendum Officer, Mauricio Claudio, said the involvement of independent observers, scrutineers and the media underlined the shared responsibility of ensuring the referendum is conducted in a free and fair manner.
“Observers play a critical role in the democratic electoral process, observing the conduct of polling and counting according to international standards. They add to the credibility of the process,” Claudio said.
“I commend the Bougainville Women’s Federation for their participation, and further encourage other groups wishing to observe the referendum to apply now – applications close 1 October, in six weeks.”
“We expect that various Bougainville and national NGOs may apply to be an observer group, as well as various diplomatic missions and intergovernmental agencies invited by the National Government.”
The Chief Referendum Officer said as part of accreditation, all observers must sign and follow a BRC Code of Conduct for Observation, and carry out their role according to the same principles of the BRC Charter of impartiality and independence, as well as operating with objectivity, legality and certainty.
“Observers must maintain a high level of neutrality and professionalism to meet international standards. They cannot interfere in the polling and counting process. Their role is to observe only,” Claudio said.
Applications will soon open for scrutineers who may be nominated by the two governments and by recognised interest groups. Scrutineers in the referendum will play a role similar to candidate agents in an election, supporting either of the two options: greater autonomy or independence. Scrutineers are different to observers because they can ask questions to presiding officers regarding a voter during the polling – which observers cannot.
Early application for observers is encouraged by the BRC. Inquiries and applications for observers should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Application for both observers and scrutineers will close 1 October, 2019.
Information and forms can be downloaded at: http://bougainville-referendum.org/observers/