Dame Billie Miller leads OAS Electoral Mission to Antigua and Barbuda

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – On Thursday, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert Ramdin, and the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda, Ambassador Deborah – Mae Lovell, signed an agreement to formalize the OAS election observation mission, to the general election that will take place in Antigua and Barbuda on March 12th, 2009.

On behalf of her Government, Ambassador Lovell thanked the OAS for accepting the invitation extended by the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, the Honorable Baldwin Spencer. “The OAS has extensive expertise in this area and therefore, we are very grateful that you have accepted this kind offer. We look forward to welcoming the OAS team in Antigua and Barbuda” she said.

Likewise, OAS Assistance Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, stressed the importance of the agreement and pointed out that for the first time the OAS will observe elections in this country. He explained that OAS observation missions are not only a form of assistance for strengthening the countries’ electoral systems, but also an opportunity to learn from the electoral processes in each of the countries where the OAS has been invited and to suggest the application of these “best practices” in other countries.

During the signing ceremony, Ramdin informed that the Observation aims to have a presence in all 17 constituencies of the country, and to be able to witness the entire election process from opening to closing of the polls, including the counting of the ballots. Ambassador Ramdin, who will be present on elections day, also took this opportunity to announce that he was pleased that former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Barbados, Dame Billie Miller has accepted the invitation to be the Chief of Mission. Steve Griner, a Senior Specialist of the OAS Department for Electoral Cooperation and Observation, was appointed as Deputy Chief of the Mission.

Ramdin remarked “It is important for the OAS to observe elections in every country that has requested such a presence. I am confident that in the good tradition of Antigua and Barbuda, all will discharge of their responsibilities in an appropriate manner and in accordance with the electoral law, and contribute to the most conducive and peaceful environment on 12 March to make free, fair and credible elections once again a reality”.

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