Media Center

Press Release


  September 26, 2007

The Organization of American States (OAS) today reiterated its conclusion that Guatemala’s presidential elections of this past September 9 was held in an atmosphere that was normal, enthusiastic, orderly and peaceful. The hemispheric organization will also monitor a second round of Guatemalan elections, to be held November 4 as “none of the presidential candidates garnered a clear majority of the votes.”

Delivering his preliminary report at a meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, the Chief of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Guatemala, former Peruvian Foreign Minister Diego García-Sayán, commended Guatemalans and made reference to their massive turn-out in elections to vote for a President, Vice President, Deputies for Congress and mayors, among other national authorities. “This, indeed, is solid demonstration of the Guatemalan people’s commitment to democracy,” García-Sayán said, referring to the Guatemalan elections that the OAS monitored at the invitation of that government.

The Chief of OAS Electoral Observation Mission also shared the results of the first round of elections, citing the two major parties that emerged with the largest shares of the votes: National Unity for Hope, led by Álvaro Colom (28.26% of the votes) and the Patriot Party, led by Otto Pérez Molina (23.55% of the votes) that will contest the November 4 run-off election.

He shared with the OAS Member State ambassadors some of the concerns and complaints that were lodged, stressing that the political organizations and community groups were afforded adequate access to the Mission’s system for lodging complaints. “Although situations of conflict and challenges did arise at the local level, they did not affect the overall electoral process,” García-Sayán concluded in his report.

In his presentation to the Permanent Council meeting, chaired by Ambassador Deborah-Mae Lovell of Antigua and Barbuda, García-Sayán also detailed, among other activities undertaken by his team of observers on the ground in Guatemala—numbering 202 members—meetings with government and electoral officials, various candidates and political parties, civil society, religious leaders, the private sector and with other national and international election observers. They also met with representatives of the major media organizations and with members of the diplomatic community in Guatemala.

In expressing his government’s appreciation for the important work in observing the recent elections, Guatemala’s Ambassador to the OAS, Francisco Villagrán, gave an overview of the invaluable electoral technical assistance that the hemispheric organization has provided his country over the years. He noted that the OAS’ presence in observing elections “is important and helps build confidence in the process and in the evenhanded and transparent manner in which the electoral authorities carry out their role.”

Ambassadors speaking on behalf of subregional groups as well as various OAS member countries praised the interim report of the Electoral Observation Mission while commending the commitment of the Guatemalan people to the process of reaffirming their democracy. They also expressed appreciation for the financial support provided by various member and observer countries to mount the Mission.

Among other items on the agenda of the Permanent Council session, the member states also hailed the 30th anniversary of the Torrijos-Carter Panama Canal Treaty between Panama and the United States, signed September 7, 1977. The treaty paved the way for the Canal to revert to full Panamanian control on December 31, 1999. The Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, Ambassador Arístides Royo, along with United States Interim Representative Robert Manzanares, highlighted the important contribution that both the agreement and the Canal have made to trade and development in the Americas.

Reference: E-240/07