The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received the report of Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) to the primary elections held in Honduras on November 18, 2012, which was presented by the Acting Director of the Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO), Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian, on behalf of the Chief of the EOM, Enrique Correa.
In the document, the Chief of Mission appointed by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, said that "the elections conducted last November 18 represented an important milestone in the return to constitutional order in Honduras and a major challenge for the electoral body, that was in charge of organizing a complex electoral process."
Correa reported on the activities of the group of 35 observers during their stay in the Central American country. "Election day unfolded peacefully, without incidents of public disorder or violence that could harm the process," cites the report, which also notes the satisfactory conditions for the beginning and development of the elections, in which "most of the polling stations opened on time and the distribution of voting materials was efficient."
The DECO Acting Director explained that an important aspect in this process was the reform of the Electoral Law that took place during 2011 that introduced for the first time the requirement that at least 40 percent of the candidates for all elected positions should be women. Likewise she said that the EOM "sees as very positive" the intense work of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), which promoted a series of measures to strengthen and provide greater transparency to the election process. In that sense, she highlighted "the decision of the TSE to perform an open count at polling stations on Election Day, the incorporation of the new figure of electoral custodian and the contracting of an international audit that followed up on all the activities and processes of the electoral body."
Muñoz added that, in the days before the election, the Mission "took note of the problems encountered in relation to the request and delivery of identity cards to different political parties, which generated controversy in different media outlets."
In terms of conclusions and recommendations, the EOM’s report urged additional efforts to ensure that members of the voting stations of the different parties are effectively and timely trained, to encourage political groups to deliver the list of table members to the TSE, to explore the possibility of establishing accountability mechanisms and reporting on campaign finance, and to consider other forms of preliminary data transmission that does not depend on a voice system with greater coverage, among others.
Thanking the government of Honduras and the TSE for the invitation, the Chief of Mission reiterated the commitment to conduct a post-election visit "in order to follow up on the recommendations presented with the relevant authorities, and to offer the accompaniment of the OAS in the next electoral cycle heading toward the next presidential election."
The Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS, Leonidas Rosa Bautista thanked the EOM for its report, which "has been transferred to the competent electoral authorities for the analysis and implementation of the recommendations, while recognizing the professionalism and competence of the mission as well as the willingness and commitment of its members."
Secretary General José Miguel Insulza took the floor to recall that electoral observation is "absolutely one of the central tasks of this organization," with a scope that has gradually expanded. "We have also been observing for quite some time regional and primary elections, and this is important to note when we are considering the organization’s priorities. This is a task that is growing and that will require more resources," he said.
The regular meeting of the Council included a report on the activities of the Secretary General away from headquarters during the month of January. At this point, Secretary General Insulza spoke about his recent visits to Chile, Colombia, and Mexico to participate in the regional meeting of the Open Government Partnership, the Advisory Council on the Human Development Report 2013 of the United Nations Development Programme, the Meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the European Union/Latin America Summit (EUROLAC).
The head of the hemispheric organization also reported on bilateral meetings held with foreign ministers and presidents including the Presidents of Haiti, Michel Martelly; of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; and of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize, Wilfred Elrington; of Guatemala, Fernando Carrera; of Venezuela, Elias Jaua; of Panama, Romulo Roux; of Peru, Rafael Roncagliolo; of Honduras, Arturo Corrales Álvarez; and of Brazil, Antonio de Aguiar Patriota; and the president of the CAF, Enrique García, among other authorities.
The Permanent Council also approved a resolution to establish the date and place for the forty-fourth special meeting of the General Assembly to consider proposals for the application of the recommendations contained in the Report of the Special Working Group to Reflect on the Workings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with a View to Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System that will be held at the OAS headquarters in Washington DC, on Friday, March 22, 2013.
On another point of the agenda, the Permanent Representative of Paraguay, Martin Sannemann, presented a report on the electoral process in his country, which will hold general elections on April 21. The Paraguayan diplomat stressed the high number of parties registered to participate in the elections and noted that no candidate has "questioned neither the national registry nor the technical integrity of the Electoral Tribunal, which is a sign of confidence in these institutions." He also highlighted the support that the OAS is providing to Paraguay by sending a mission to monitor the electoral process, led by former President of Costa Rica, Oscar Arias, who was appointed by Secretary General Insulza.
The Council also approved a request from the Permanent Representative of Peru, Ambassador Raul Salazar, in his position as Secretary Pro Tempore of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), to change the date for the Sixth Meeting of the OAS Group of Experts to prepare model legislation in the areas to which the CIFTA refers, that was originally scheduled for February 18 and 19 to March 5.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event is available here.
The B-roll of the event will be available here.
The audio of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.