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Saint Lucia’s Election Peaceful and Extremely Positive, Say OAS Observers

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Monday, December 18, 2006 - The Organization of American States (OAS) today released its preliminary report on Saint Lucia’s December 11 general election, finding that it was conducted in a positive manner. “The environment in which citizens exercised their franchise was peaceful and without incident,” states the preliminary report that Deputy Mission Chief Steven Griner delivered to a Permanent Council meeting.

This assessment comes one week after the Caribbean nation went to the polls, with the OAS monitoring an election in Saint Lucia for the first time. The United Workers Party of former Prime Minister Sir John Compton won eleven seats; the remaining six went to incumbent Prime Minister Kenny Anthony’s Saint Lucia Labor Party. Prime Minister Compton was sworn in last Friday.

Ambassador Christopher Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago, a former OAS Assistant Secretary General, led the 14-member team of OAS election observers from eight countries. The observers covered the 17 constituencies and visited all 102 polling sites, “witnessing first hand the electoral preparations, voting, counting of ballots and the transmission of results.” They also interviewed presiding officers, poll clerks, party agents, police officers and members of the public regarding preparations and the conduct of the elections, according to the OAS report on the Saint Lucia election.

Although noting that “there were relatively few areas in which the Mission felt that the electoral process in St Lucia could be improved,” the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Saint Lucia recommended the voters’ list be rectified, even though “discrepancies observed did not affect the integrity of the elections.” The OAS observers also suggested improving polling sites to enable ready access for all voters, and said that “political parties should consider mechanisms to recruit, train and finance women to be candidates for public office,” as only 3 of the 38 candidates contesting the election were women, none of whom won.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza hailed the very successful conduct of Saint Lucia's election, noting that it brings to a close a very busy election year in the Americas and is “further demonstration of a very solid democracy in Caribbean countries.” The Secretary General said the OAS now has a chance to review the recommendations it has made to several members states concerning their elections held this year, in a bid to improve technical aspects of elections. Insulza also congratulated Sir John Compton and commended Prime Minister Kenny Anthony.

Meanwhile, the Saint Lucian Ambassador to the OAS, Sonia Johnny, expressed “profound gratitude” for the observer mission that was sent. She spoke of the high premium that Saint Lucians place on transparency, openness and accountability. “In Saint Lucia,” she added, “we have engendered a mature political climate where we strive to maintain the highest standards of decency in the belief that this is one of the characteristics of a true democracy.”

During the Permanent Council session chaired by Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador Marina Valere, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission also thanked the governments of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States for providing crucial financial support and observers. Member states collectively welcomed the report and hailed the Saint Lucian election, underscoring the latter as an exemplary display of the democratic process.

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