Some 2,000 electoral observers will keep an eye on the October 2 vote on a recently closed peace deal between Colombia’s government and the FARC, the country’s largest rebel group.
The non-government Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) has been observing Colombia’s elections since 2007. For the first time since its foundation, it will now observe a plebiscite and not without reason.
The MOE will be primarily present in the more than 200 municipalities it considers at risk of electoral fraud ahead and during the vote. Fifty-four of these municipalities are at extreme risk of fraud.
Fraud or voter coercion risks
Source: Electoral Observation Mission | Consult the full screen map
In terms of electoral fraud risk, the organization took into account the presence of illegal armed groups like the AGC and the ELN, and the presence of local elites previously linked to paramilitary groups.
Additionally, coca cultivation areas were flagged as local drug traffickers could feel threatened that the FARC’s abandonment of the multi-million industry could harm their illicit business.
Last but not least, areas where the FARC is present were flagged because it is this guerrilla group whose future is at stake in the plebiscite.
How to report fraud
Apart from deploying its own electoral observers, the MOE called on Colombians to report possible election fraud on its website. A free telephone line will also be available to report irregularities.
Observers will also be present in five embassies where Colombians abroad can cast their “Yes” or “No” vote to the FARC peace deal.
The plebiscite is fiercely contested.
The government coalition of President Juan Manuel Santos, supported by the leftist opposition and a wide range of social organizations will be campaigning for the ratification of the deal.
The conservative opposition, led by former President Alvaro Uribe, has been campaigning for a “No” vote, claiming vices in the parts of the FARC’s future political participation and leniency for war criminals must be renegotiated.
If Colombia votes “Yes” this will kick-start a peace process to end political violence that has battered the country for more than half a century.
If Colombia votes “No,” the government and the FARC will be presented with a major problem as there seems to be no “Plan B” in case the public rejects the deal as it stands.