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OAS Certifies Results and Issues Recommendations on Elections in Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Suriname

  July 7, 2010

The Organization of American States (OAS) today certified the results of the recent elections in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Suriname, and presented its final recommendations before the institution’s Permanent Council through individual reports submitted by Electoral Observation Missions (EOM).

The OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, praised both the “meticulousness” with which the three missions were carried out and the progress these electoral processes are making for democracy in the Americas. “We can be proud of the work done and very happy with the manner in which democracy is growing in our continent,” he said.

In particular, Secretary General Insulza emphasized that the efficacy and prestige of the OAS in this matter “has no equal in other organizations. When a government wishes to declare an election to be free and fair, what best assures these results is the electoral observation of the OAS. All the countries we have gone to can testify to the quality of our missions.”

The reports of the following observation missions were presented today to the Permanent Council: parliamentary elections in the Dominican Republic May 16; general elections in Suriname May 25, and the electoral processes in Colombia, both the legislative elections of March 14 and both rounds of presidential elections May 30 and June 20, respectively.

Dominican Republic

The OAS Secretary for External Relations, Adam Blackwell, presented the report of the EOM, which was comprised of 53 technicians and of observers from 20 countries, that traveled to the Dominican Republic to follow the electoral process of May 16, in which Congressional and Municipal Regular General elections were held. A total of 4,036 positions were filled, including Representatives, Senators, Mayors, Deputy Mayors, Aldermen and representatives to the PARLACEN. In total, more than 6.1 million citizens were empowered to vote for 16,000 candidates.

“In summary, the Mission considers that the process was carried out successfully and that the will of Dominicans has been respected and fully expressed in the polls,” Ambassador Blackwell said. “During its period of observation, the EOM noted that the electoral body received the complete confidence of both political and stakeholders, a significant accomplishment for the consolidation of the Dominican democratic and electoral system.”

According to the report, the Mission did observe electoral violations, including buying of identity cards in the Municipality of Mao, Valverde Province, and evidence of vote buying in 17% of observed electoral polls. Additionally, the Mission observed significant acts of proselytism in voting centers and surrounding areas, with evidence of electoral propaganda in or around 63% of observed voting centers.

Blackwell reiterated the recommendations given during previous missions to the national electoral organization and pointed out new challenges arisen from institutions created during the constitutional reform of January 26, 2010. There were several key recommendations outlined by the EOM’s Chief of Mission: to review the design of the ballot, which in this instance created difficulties for both voters and the counting of votes; to have the Junta Central Electoral or JCE redouble its efforts and implement information campaigns so voters understand the electoral process and how to vote; to ensure equitable conditions for electoral competition; to have competent authorities in the full exercise of their faculties, with the ability to punish perpetrators who violate established laws; and to strengthen electoral institutions.

In turn, the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS, Héctor Virgilio Alcántara, thanked the EOM’s efforts and affirmed that the Dominican authorities have taken note of its recommendations. “We are sure they will be well received by our authorities,” he said.


The Chief of the EOM in Suriname, Irene Klinger, asserted that “the electoral process and the election event itself took place in a peaceful and proper environment and complied with all international election standards, without any irregularities being reported.”

The Chief of Mission, who held various meetings with electoral authorities, political parties and members of civil society and the international community, reported that the OAS deployed a group of 26 observers from 16 countries that arrived in the Surinamese capital on May 15 and visited nearly 90% of the 580 polling sites in the 10 districts of the country, witnessing the voting process firsthand and interviewing polling station members, party agents and the general public.

“Different from other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, in Suriname political parties are permitted to campaign in the polling centers on Election Day,” Klinger recalled, adding that “at no time did the OAS observers see these party representatives disrupt the process. Indeed, they added to the environment of congeniality and celebration.”

Among the preliminary recommendations presented by the Chief of Mission before the Council was the need for the electoral authorities to prepare unified procedures to assist voters with special needs, including elderly and physically or mentally challenged citizens. Similarly, the importance of promoting more active participation by women in political parties and candidacies was highlighted.

In response to the report, the Permanent Representative of Suriname to the OAS, Ambassador Jacques Ruben Constantijn Kross, thanked the work of the Mission and noted the high level of tolerance and participation during the voting, asserting that “there were absolutely no reports of incidents” and that the elections were characterized as truly “a democratic feast.” Ambassador Kross also asserted that the recommendations “will be conveyed to the proper authorities to take them into serious consideration.”


The Chief of Mission, Enrique Correa, noted that his team was in Colombia from February 20 until after the second round of presidential elections, held on June 20. During that period, the Mission traveled to 30 of the 32 departments in the country, a deployment that culminated with a visit to 125 municipalities on Election Day during the second presidential round.

The Mission highlighted that “the electoral process was conducted successfully, and this should be understood as an achievement for the Colombian government and people.” In particular, Correa underlined that the three elections “had the lowest levels of violence in the last decades” and had “few shocks for candidates, juries, party witnesses and electors.”

The Chief of Mission further explained that “the presidential elections went ahead with greater diligence and correctness than the legislative one.” While “the buying of votes in six departments of the country” was observed in March, while in May and June the same phenomenon was observed only “in the municipalities of Bucaramanga and Montería.”

In this sense, Correa asserted that “there are still structural difficulties in the Colombian electoral system that require legal and technical adjustments to be overcome,” yet despite this, “important progress was made in the presidential elections and the lessons learned from the March elections were evident.”

The Mission also reiterated its initial recommendations to the Colombian authorities: to improve conditions in the voting places; to submit copies of the ballots to party witnesses; to improve the safety measures and guarantees in the transmission of preliminary electoral results; and to update the electoral census, preferably through the creation of a biometric registry.

The Alternate Representative of Colombia to the OAS, Carlos Iván Plazas, thanked “the support that the OAS brings to the electoral processes and in particular to these recent elections,” and highlighted especially the Mission’s deployment “throughout the whole country.” Furthermore, he said that “the electoral process was further proof that Colombia has an efficient, effective and participative democracy.” The diplomat added that his government welcomes the Mission’s recommendations and “will adopt the measures that tend to guarantee” maximum transparency in future elections.

A photo gallery of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-267/10