The Colombian government has signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) that will see international observers in 16 at-risk Colombian departments for the upcoming elections.
The observers will be sent to 72 municipalities classified as at high risk because of the influence of drug trafficking, guerrillas, neo-paramilitary groups, and criminal gangs, or because the process of land restitution is underway.
Announcing the mission, Minister of the Interior German Vargas Lleras said, “armed groups fighting to take control of local governments is of the utmost concern.”
The 40-strong OAS team will consist of experts in electoral organization, electoral legislation, press, coordination of observers, political analysis, and logistics.
The mission will be led by Mexican politician Beatriz Paredes, a former head of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), governor of the state of Tlaxcala, President of the Latin American Parliament, and Ambassador of Mexico in Cuba.
Secretary General of the OAS Jose Miguel Insulza said, “we know the importance Colombia has acquired in the region and making this process work well has for us an international projection of great importance.”
In August, the Colombian based Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) identified 241 municipalities at high risk of fraud and violence as well as documenting a 68% increase in election related violence and a 67% increase in indicators of electoral fraud.
The OAS team will begin work on October 17.