January 20, 2006

NMCM: Elections were generally free and fair

The National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism, NMCM, has presented its report on the General Elections of December 7, 2005. And, in an effort to fulfill its role of ensuring that free and fair elections are held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the body has made eleven recommendations “in an effort to deepen the democratic process and provide greater transparency in every aspect of the election machinery.” {{more}}

Among the recommendations is that the 15-day special registration period be abolished. According to the report, the recommendation is being made because this period “has serious implications for the conduct of free and fair elections. It does not provide any safe-guards for checks and balances, as to who is registered in this period.”

The NMCM is of the opinion that registration of voters should be continuous, and that “concerted efforts need to be made for persons to become registered on attainment of the age of 18.” This process ,they feel, “should form an integral part of the programme of the Supervisor of Elections.”

Recommendations are also being made that a comprehensive voter education programme be undertaken, and that the media be fully utilized in the process.

The NMCM has repeated the recommendation made in the preliminary report of the OAS Observer Mission that Election Officials be properly trained. The NMCM has also noted the officials should be selected early enough for the training to be done and for them to become familiar with the Representation of the People’s Act.

The body has concluded that the general elections held on December 7, were generally free and fair, “notwithstanding institutional inadequacies, human shortcomings, procedural errors and administrative weaknesses.”

The NMCM, which was set up in 2000 just prior to the 2001 Elections, was chaired and convened by the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council, and comprised representatives from the National Youth Council, the National Council of Women, the SVG Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the SVG Bar Association, and the three political parties.