OAS Observer Team Has Started its Work

Two key groups that have confirmed their intention to dispatch a team of observers are the Nevis Division of the St. Kitts & Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce, (CIC), and the Organization of American States, OAS.

The Nevis branch of the CIC, said  it decided to provide its support to the monitoring exercise, as part of its civic duty and as a responsible corporate entity, that has a keen interest in the future of the island, not only in terms of economic development but also the social and political advancement.

This would be the first time that the group will be undertaking such an exercise and they have been drawing on the guidance and support of their counterparts in St. Kitts, who last year, observed the Federal Elections and from whom many lessons could be learnt.

Meantime, one group that has had much experience in the field as observers for elections within this hemisphere is the OAS, which also dispatched a team to previous elections in the Federation, including the poll of 25th January, 2010.

This time around the OAS team is comprised of five members and is headed by Paul Spencer, who is an employee of the Organization of American States and an advisor to the OAS Secretary General on Caribbean Affairs.

Mr. Spencer is also a specialist in the Secretariat for Political Affairs of the OAS. He is a seasoned diplomat and an international civil servant. He was also part of the observer team that observed the last year’s General Elections in St. Kitts & Nevis.

The team’s mandate is somewhat similar to that given to the observers in 2010. It is to observe and monitor the conduct of the elections. To gather such information and the facts of the polling that would help the team ultimately to prepare and submit its final report on the elections.

Since arriving here, the OAS observers have held discussions with various government representatives, including the Prime Minister. They have also begun their discussions with the various political groups on Nevis and St. Kitts.

According to some reports, the team this morning, Friday 8th July, 2011, was able to observe some of the proceedings related to the recent case brought to the High Court, on allegations that names of voters had been removed from the Voters List.

That case has since concluded, with High Court Judge Mario Michel, deciding that the five persons for whom affidavits were sworn, (indicating that their names were removed), must be re-instated as registered voters. However, the opposition Concerned Citizens Movement, CCM, which took the matter to court, was not able to have a broad-based decision that would have related to other persons, some 240 plus, who also claimed that they too were removed from the list of voters. Given that no affidavits were presented for these, no decision was taken on their behalf.

While on the ground in Nevis, the observers are expected to monitor not only the activities on polling day, but also public meetings and the general management of the poll.

The OAS Observer Team will host a press conference, early Tuesday morning, the day after the poll, at the Hermitage Hotel, where the team will not only give its verdict on the election but the media would have the opportunity to ask questions.

The team is scheduled to leave that same day, on Tuesday 12th July, with its final report being submitted within a 3 week period.

One of the key pillars of the OAS has to do with the promotion of democracy within its membership.

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