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OAS Permanent Council Hears Reports by Electoral Missions in Guatemala and Nicaragua

  November 15, 2011

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today heard reports by the Missions present during the general elections recently held in Guatemala and Nicaragua, presented by the chiefs of mission José Octavio Bordón and Dante Caputo, respectively.

The regular session of the OAS body also approved new additions to its registry of civil society organizations and agreed to convene a joint session with civil society for November 30.

The Mission of Electoral Accompaniment (MEA) during the general elections in Nicaragua reported "situations of concern that indicate the need for quick action by the authorities" in the future; "a series of events that had very serious effects" on their duties of Accompaniment; and also proposed three recommendations to improve the Nicaraguan electoral system. At the same time, it reported that control monitors implemented to predict the outcome of the polls produced "similar results" to those issued by the Supreme Electoral Council, which pronounced President Daniel Ortega as the winner.

Former foreign minister Caputo also highlighted "the repeated accounts and claims of possible outbursts of violence made by various presidential candidates" before the voting. He explained that thus it was "a victory for peace that there was not a general state of alteration in the public order, despite predictions to that effect."

Among the "situations of concern," the Mission noted the lack of authorization to some non-governmental organizations that wished to participate in the electoral observation; the existence of pending judicial decisions that could prevent an elected representative from assuming office even after his or her candidacy was approved by the Supreme Electoral Council, warning that any change "would constitute a grave alteration to the popular will"; the late delivery of accreditations to some 9,000 witnesses from the Alianza PLI; the difficulties in the delivery of identity cards that make it possible to vote; the partisan makeup of the Polling Committees or "Juntas Receptoras de Votos"; and the existence of "diverse instances of violence within the territory that, while they may not have spread, constitute serious events."

The Chief of the MEA also explained that OAS observers were not allowed entry to witness the constitution of 10 of the tables that had been selected as samples, and in four cases a similar situation occurred at the time of counting. "This constitutes a serious hindrance to our evaluation and a breach in the Procedural Agreement," Caputo asserted.

The recommendations of the OAS Mission included: to concede greater autonomy to political parties to accredit their witnesses at the voting tables; that the Polling Committees be composed of citizens without regard to their political affiliation; and to improve the identity-card process and the administration of identity cards to citizens.

The Permanent Representative of Nicaragua, Denis Moncada, thanked the work of the MEA and highlighted that "in Nicaragua we have conducted free and transparent elections, in an environment of peace and with good governance." "We agree in the assessment that our electoral system isn't perfect, but that did not prevent us from conducting this process with transparency," Ambassador Moncada added.

On this subject, the representatives of El Salvador, Mexico, Canada, United States, Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Uruguay, Panama, and Costa Rica also took the floor. The representatives' remarks are available here

Regarding the general elections held in Guatemala on September 11 and the second round on November 6, the Argentine ambassador José Octavio Bordón said the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) "considers it appropriate to express its satisfaction with the electoral process, which progressed in a transparent way and the results of which have been received as trustworthy and legitimate by all stakeholders." The winner of the elections was Otto Pérez Molina.

He noted in particular that "the second presidential round was held in general terms without major inconveniences," and applauded the prompt setup of the tables, the high presence of head members as well as party witnesses, the adequate access to information regarding voting places, and an ordered and quick counting process conducted under calm and normal conditions by the table authorities.

He recalled that the country's citizens in this second electoral round "came out massively to vote, achieving a historic turnout above 60 percent of eligible voters," and he highlighted that in the electoral roll there was an increase of 33 percent in women.

Nevertheless, during the November 6 elections there were "some difficulties, among which of most concern was the lack of security in some of the voting centers," the Argentine diplomat said. "The Mission also heard claims of electoral proselytism and vote buying by both political parties in the race, as well as complaints by citizens who received different types of death threats for exercising a role in the electoral process."

During the second presidential election of November 6th, 70 people from 18 OAS Member States and three Permanent Observers were deployed in the country's 22 departments. The EOM received financial support from the governments of Bolivia, Chile, Canada, South Korea, Spain, the United States, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee, thanked the "excellent work of electoral observation" conducted by the OAS Mission and the support of the countries that contributed to make it possible. Also, Ambassador Skinner-Klee noted the "generalized environment of peace and tranquility" in which the electoral process was held in his country and added that the unprecedented citizen participation "more than supports the legitimacy of the elected authorities and the trust that the people of Guatemala have placed in the democratic political system."

On this subject, the representatives of the following countries also took the floor: Mexico, United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Venezuela. The representatives' remarks are available here

During the regular session, a decision was taken to authorize the registration of 26 new civil society organizations in the registry so they may participate in the activities of the OAS, which already includes 387 institutions. The list of newly registered organizations is available here.

The Permanent Council also agreed to convene for November 30 a special meeting with civil society organizations, with the goal of receiving their inputs on how they have contributed and how they can support the efforts of the Member States to forge a democratic culture in the Americas. The meeting fulfills the mandates of the OAS General Assemblies of 2010 and 2011, and will be held in the framework of the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The Permanent Council also resolved to request actions by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, to urge member countries to be up to date in their payments of pending quotas, so the Organization may avoid a potential lack of funds in facing its financial commitments.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-958/11