By Caribbean News Now contributor
ST JOHN’S, Antigua -- The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS) will both observe the Antigua and Barbuda general elections, to be held on Thursday, June 12, 2014, joining another electoral observation team from the Commonwealth
CARICOM has mounted an 11-member electoral observer mission, led by Jamaica’s director of elections, Orrette Fisher. The team, with nine officials drawn from CARICOM member states and two from the CARICOM Secretariat, began arriving in Antigua last Friday 6 June.
Other members of the mission are: Ian Browne, deputy chief elections officer of Barbados; Barrette Woodye of the Belize Elections and Boundaries Department; Henry George, former Dominica parliamentarian; Chester Humphrey, trade unionist and former senator in the Grenada parliament; Pauline Welsh of the Electoral Office in Jamaica; Windgrove George, supervisor of elections in St Kitts and Nevis; Lena Champa Sahadeo, deputy chief elections officer of Trinidad and Tobago; and Dennisia Francisco and Serojnie Seetaram of the CARICOM Secretariat.
The OAS electoral observation mission (OAS/EOM) has also arrived in St John´s, led by chief of mission Rosina Wiltshire, who brings Caribbean and global experience to the team, which is composed of 16 observers from Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Haiti, Mexico, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
The overall objective of the missions is to observe that the electoral process is carried out with impartiality, transparency and reliability. The delegation will meet with representatives of political parties and government officials, as well as with members of the media and social organizations. On Election Day, observers will be present in polling stations across all 17 constituencies in Antigua and Barbuda from the opening of the polls to the counting of votes and the publication of results.
The OAS mission will implement two methodologies to observe campaign financing and gender equality. In the case of political financing, the mission will focus on transparency and fairness. In the case of gender equality, it will analyze the access of men and women to elected office and their participation in the process. In addition, the OAS/EOM will analyze the legal framework for the resolution of electoral disputes.
The first members of the OAS mission arrived in the country on Thursday June 5. Since then, they have held meetings with different political actors. This is the second time the OAS has observed an election in Antigua and Barbuda. The first mission was deployed in 2009.
The day after the election, the OAS/EOM will present its preliminary findings in a press conference and will subsequently present a report to the Permanent Council of the Organization in Washington, DC.
Widespread allegations of voter fraud have been reported prior to the arrival of the various observer missions and, according to some commentators, the observers’ arrival in the country just a few days before the elections has deprived them of any opportunity to witness or investigate alleged vote-buying that has been widely reported in social media and on local radio call-in shows.
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