Posted by Kirsten Begg on Jun 21, 2010 Leave a comment

OAS praises ‘less violent’ Colombian elections

oas election observers

The Organization of American States (OAS) electoral observation mission that oversaw Colombia’s Sunday presidential elections called them the least violent “in decades” and noted that they took place “with the great transparency and correctness.”

Chilean Enrique Correa, who headed the mission, told a Bogota press conference that 81 international observers from 23 Latin American and European countries had only observed one instance of vote buying in the second round election.

Correa said that the instance occurred in Monteria, the capital of the north Colombian Cordoba department, but did not name the party involved in the vote buying.

According to Correa, one of the delegates saw a taxi arrive at a polling station at various times during the day with car loads of people, who were handed electoral materials which they then deposited in the ballot box. The mission leader said he did not have any more details on the incident.

Mission observers confirmed that there had been “progress” since Colombia’s disastrous March 14 congressional elections, with more orderly processes and more facilities for voters in the both the May 30 first round and June 20 second round presidential elections.

“The strengths and weaknesses of the Colombian electoral system were reflected again on election day. Structural problems still exist that require legal and technical adjustments in order to be overcome,” Correa said.

The mission leader said that the speed with which the results were published were a strength, while a failure was a lack of polling booths in which for people to vote.

Correa’s recommendations included the need “to improve conditions of voting centers,” and “hand over copies of witness reports to parties.” He also suggested that the transmission of preliminary electoral results not be made by telephone, in order to instill greater confidence, as well as “refine and update the electoral roll” so that “dead people do not vote.”

An official report on the elections will be presented to the OAS’ permanent council.