December 17, 2010
OAS observers give SVG a clean bill of health

For the second time in as many years, observers from the Organization of American States have given the St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Electoral Process a clean bill of health.{{more}}

At a press conference on the morning of Tuesday, December 14, which was held at Grenadine House in Kingstown, OAS Chief of Mission Frank Almaguer indicated that after covering events leading up to the elections, along with meetings with key persons from all aspects of the process, and visiting the polling stations, he was satisfied with the democratic process in the country.

“Let me congratulate the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the impressive exercise of democratic processes that we witnessed yesterday that was peaceful, orderly and managed responsively.”

“We extend our congratulations to all the political parties and all the candidates; they ran a spirited campaign, and in most instances, what we witnessed was that on Election Day the candidates and all the candidates and the parties and the followers followed the procedures that were laid out by the law.”

Almaguer, joined at the press conference by representatives from other regional and international observer teams, said that his ten-member delegation visited all 229 polling stations in the 15 constituencies on Election Day, and from their observations, the process was well conducted.

Some of the observations included the fact that all polling stations were open on time, all voting material needed to conduct the process was available, observers from each political party were present, and there was a high voter turn out in the early hours of the polling.

“What we found consistently was the fact that the voters waiting to cast their ballots were patient and gracious and the observers were welcomed everywhere with warmth; not only by the election officials and the police but also by the voters with whom we had a chance to interact.”

“The number of voters seems to be a bit higher than those who participated in the referendum a year ago, although slightly less than the voters who participated in 2005, but it was a good representation of the voting population.”

“We also looked at the margins for each of the candidates and found that the preliminary results seem to indicate that the difference between the winner and the second placed candidate is sufficiently large to make it unlikely that any of the results that we have seen will change.”

According to the Chief of Mission, a number of recommendations based on the mission’s observations are expected to be made in the final report to the OAS.

One of these observations was that the voters’ list was larger than the actual numbers of voters who turned up at the polls and available to vote.

Acknowledging that some issues had been brought up concerning violence and other incidents, Almaguer indicated that none of this was seen during the polling period which would have caused intimidation and affect the democratic process.

“There are no perfect elections…. From my perspective this was a very good electoral process and one that would probably be helpful to other countries in the region, not only in the Caribbean and also in the rest of the countries that make up the OAS as well, as they consider ways of improving their own electoral process.”

“We want to extend on behalf of the Secretary General of the OAS congratulations to all the winners who bear now the responsibility for both governing and for leading the opposition in a democratic setting.”

“The OAS is committed to fostering and supporting democratic values and citizen participation.”

“We witnessed that yesterday and feel that St. Vincent and the Grenadines gave a good example of democracy in action which will give lessons to others in the region.”