OAS Signs Agreement With Antigua And Barbuda Electoral Commission

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua – The Organization of American States (OAS) Electoral Observation Mission in Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday signed an agreement with the twin-island nation’s Electoral Commission for the hemispheric organization to observe the process culminating in general elections on Thursday, March 12. It marks the first time the OAS is observing an Antigua and Barbuda election.

Chief of the 23-member OAS Electoral Observation Mission, Dame Billie Miller, the former Barbados Deputy Prime Minister, signed the agreement along with Commission Chairman Sir Gerald Watt. Meanwhile, OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin and Deputy Chief of Mission Steven Griner of the OAS were among those on hand to witness the signing.

The agreement covers the terms and conditions as well as guarantees and privileges and immunities accorded to the Mission, which is observing the elections at the request of the Antigua and Barbuda government. Under the agreement, the Electoral Commission guarantees the Mission “access to all facilities for the adequate fulfillment of the elections in 2009 until conclusion of the General Elections process in Antigua and Barbuda.”

Chief of Mission Miller described the agreement as being “of very high significance.” She noted that it guarantees, in writing, “conditions of security, free access to information, and the full cooperation of the Electoral Commission of Antigua and Barbuda with the OAS Electoral Observation Mission.” She explained that the agreement also “guarantees that certain information would be made available to us,” in addition to ensuring “access to polling stations so that we can properly observe, and access to documents so that we may have those for our records.”

The OAS observers are guaranteed access to all polling stations and other locations on election day. As well, the agreement guarantees access to facilities related to the election until the official count is tabulated nationally and the general election process is concluded.

Asserting he was “very pleased to accompany Dame Billie Miller on this Mission,” Assistant Secretary General Ramdin stated that “the population, the political parties, and the candidates as well as the Electoral Commission of Antigua and Barbuda seem to be ready for the elections on Thursday, and we are confident that this will take place in a peaceful, orderly and professional manner.”

The OAS Mission officials have held meetings with representatives of the political parties, Governor General, the Electoral Commission, representatives of civil society organizations, and those charged with security during the elections.

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