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FORMER OAS ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL CHRISTOPHER THOMAS
TO LEAD MONITORS TO SAINT LUCIA ELECTIONS

  December 5, 2006

As Saint Lucians go to the polls in general elections next Monday, the vote will be observed by a team of 12 Organization of American States (OAS) election monitors, to be led by a former Assistant Secretary General of the hemispheric organization, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago.

The announcement was made today in Washington by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza as he signed, along with Saint Lucia’s Ambassador Sonia Johnny, the agreement covering the privileges and immunities to be extended to the members of the Electoral Observation Mission. Insulza said the appointment of Ambassador Thomas to lead the mission underscores the importance attached to these elections.

In remarks after signing the agreement, Ambassador Johnny explained that the invitation for the OAS to observe the electoral exercise was “to highlight the high premium which we place on openness, transparency and accountability.” She said the agreement with the OAS also signals to the hemispheric community “Saint Lucia’s unwavering commitment to the principles of democracy and governance as well as to maintaining these fundamental principles as the very foundation of our small nation.”

Ambassador Johnny spoke about her government’s full confidence in “the integrity of our impeccable institutions.” She explained too, that while extremely confident about its highly competent electoral councils, Saint Lucia invited the OAS to observe the elections as “impartial witness”—not out of pressure nor because of any need for validation of the elections, but rather “to open the doors of our democratic nation in the spirit of political openness.”

Noting Saint Lucia’s election was coming at the end of a very busy election year in OAS member nations, Secretary General Insulza hailed the strength of that nation’s democratic institutions. He also paid tribute to the strong tradition of democratic institutions in Caribbean countries as “one of the strengths of the hemisphere.” Insulza noted how seriously the citizens of Caribbean nations take their democracy, and expressed appreciation to the governments of the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom for their support that has helped facilitate this team of observers.

Parallel to the signing of the privileges and immunities agreement, an electoral guarantee agreement was signed in the Saint Lucia capital, Castries, by that country’s Chief Elections Officer, Carson Raggie, and OAS Representative Paul Spencer. That agreement provides OAS observers access to polling stations on election day, and also allows the OAS representatives to witness the counting and tabulation of votes.

Those witnessing the Washington signing ceremony included OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin; Acting Chair of the OAS Permanent Council Ambassador Lisa Shoman of Belize; and Senior OAS Specialist Steven Griner, who will be Deputy Chief of the Electoral Observation Mission in Saint Lucia.

Reference: E-268/06