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.