Media Center

Press Release


  March 19, 2009

The Chiefs of Mission of the Electoral Observations Missions (EOM) that represented the Organization of American States (OAS) in Antigua and Barbuda and in Honduras presented their reports to the Permanent Council of the Organization.

The representatives of the 34 OAS Member States were briefed on the results of the electoral observation mission held in Antigua and Barbuda on March 12, 2009. The report was presented by the Chief of Mission, Dame Billie Miller, who indicated that for the first time in Antigua and Barbuda, the OAS sent an observation team. It consisted of 23 persons from 13 countries.

Miller recognized that the electoral process to elect 17 members of parliament was closely contested and explained how on election day, the observers deployed to the 17 constituencies of Antigua and Barbuda. They visited all of the 151 polling sites, witnessing the electoral preparations, voting, and counting of ballots.

“The main issue of concern in this election was the many polling stations open late across the country. At a number of polling sites election materials were not received on time or key personnel were absent. This situation led to delays ranging from one hour to six hours before voting could begin” said Miller, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Barbados. “Even thought the problem was widespread, the delays did not, in the Mission’s opinion, affect one party more than another”, she pointed out.

According to Miller’s report, the voter turnout for the general elections in Antigua and Barbuda reached 81%. She also took the opportunity to underscore that the vast majority of voters displayed great tenacity and fortitude in casting their votes, despite considerable difficulties and delays experienced in some polling stations. “Indeed, the behavior of the electorate of Antigua and Barbuda was exemplary,” she noted.

The head of the OAS Mission also presented some observations and recommendations that could be implemented on future elections in Antigua and Barbuda. These included allocations of human and technological resources for the Electoral Commission, greater responsibility from political parties, candidates, and individual citizens for ensuring timely registration of voters, the introduction of an identification card suitable for multiple purposes; and greater attention to the signage and layout of polling sites.

The Delegation of Antigua and Barbuda, through its Alternate Representative, Ms. Ann-Marie Layne Campbell, thanked the hemispheric body for the work carried out by the EOM, underscoring the value of this task. Ms. Campbell highlighted that the preliminary conclusions of the different electoral missions invited by the Antiguan and Barbudan Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer, are consistent with those presented by the OAS.

In recognizing the value of the Mission’s participation, Ms. Campbell affirmed that “as a country, we are convinced that representative democracy is an indispensable condition for peace, stability and development.”

EOM in Honduras

Likewise, Raúl Alconada Sempé, Chief of Mission, of the EOM held in Honduras in November, 2008, informed the Permanent Council that 15 members of the OAS Mission were present during the primary elections in Honduras. The mission was made of experts on issues such as electoral organization, logistics and electoral campaigns follow-up. The mission members spent over a week in the country consulting with national officials before and after the elections.

In his report, Mr. Alconada explained that the most sensitive question during the electoral process in Honduras was the counting of ballots. He also recognized that the whole election process was a peaceful and civic journey in which Hondurans exercised their rights in an orderly manner.

Aiming to improve future electoral processes, the Chief of Mission shared some of the problems found during these elections, and presented a couple of recommendations for the upcoming presidential elections that will be held later this year. The recommendations included strengthening the National Electoral Tribunal through additional resources at the polling stations, and aiming at a higher level of threshold in terms of data collection before transmitting preliminary electoral results.

“The OAS mission believes that the participatory exercise that took place in Honduras represents a step forward and a deepening of democracy for the country”, he noted and commented how important it is for the citizens and for the political parties of Honduras to continue engaging in this process.

In response to the Head of Mission’s presentation, the Alternate Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS, Guadalupe Carias, thanked the support the Organization has offered to her country during the recent electoral season. Ms. Carias said that the OAS Observation Mission carried out its work in “sterling fashion” and indicated that “the results of these primaries have established a foundation that is solid and positive with regard to the forthcoming presidential elections.”

Reference: E-085/09