The six-member high level Caribbean mission that observed the recent Venezuelan Presidential and State Legislative Council elections has concluded that the May 20 elections were conducted efficiently and in a fair and transparent manner.Nicolas Maduro won the Presidential election from three other candidates to secure a second six-year term.
According to official reports, he received over six million votes, with his rivals securing votes as follows: Henry Falcon (1,920,597 votes), Reinaldo Quijada (983,140 votes) and Javier Bertucci (36,132 votes).Ambassador to Cuba of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and head of the observer mission, Ellsworth John, at a media briefing in Kingstown on Wednesday, elaborated that all of the registered voters who wanted to exercise their right to vote, participated in a peaceful and accommodating environment.
“The National Electoral Council reported that 45.99 per cent of the 20,526,978 persons that were eligible to vote, exercised their civil right to vote. This turn out of voters demonstrated that despite the decision by some of the political parties not to participate in elections, the citizens viewed the elections as important and confirmed its legitimacy,” John stated.The Ambassador described in his official report, a two-way voting process that took about a minute per person, which began with finger print ID verification, then electronic voting.
“Once verified, the voter voted by touching the picture of the candidate of their choice. The machine generated a printout with the picture and party of the candidate. The voter placed the print out into a box which could then be used manually to verify the correctness of the electronic result. The voter then signed a list of the number of persons who voted. The secrecy of the vote was preserved. Batteries were attached to all of the voting machines to ensure the vote could continue if there was an electronic failure…. Assurances were also given that there were backup voting machines if there was a malfunction,” Ambassador John’s report stated.
He explained that the mission recommended there be uniforms for officials at the 40 polling stations in order to distinguish them from voters, observers and the media. Furthermore, that the voter registration lists be located where they would be protected from the elements and for the font to be more legible.
John said it was observed that at one polling station, persons who lined up to vote were chanting for Maduro and that all campaigning should have ended before election day.
The Ambassador explained that once the results were announced, the Opposition Leader took to a podium to voice his displeasure and the media reports that said that people did not have the right to speak was not evident to them in their observation.
“There was a microphone next to the podium, immediately a member of the opposition went up and spoke for a half and hour, denouncing the elections and nobody, no official, nobody from the National Electoral Council, nobody from the army or police prevented him from going up there and speaking freely as to what his views were of the election. People listened, some of the observers asked him questions, he answered them and that was it,” John said.
The observer team also included Ambassador Anthony Liverpool, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda; Ambassador Felix Gregoire, Dominica’s Ambassador to CARICOM;Senator Chester Humphrey, distinguished regional trade unionist and currently the President of the Senate in Grenada; Mr Edmund Leilis, former Minister of Home Affairs / State Advisor of the Republic of Suriname; and Ms Renuka Raghoe, Member of the Independent Electoral Council of the Republic of Suriname.The team arrived in Venezuela on May 17 and remained there for four days.