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Press statement from the caribbean community (CARICOM) electoral observer mission to the general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The presence of the CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is based on the provisions of the Grand Beach Accord and a commitment given to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines by the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community.

The Accord provides, inter alia, that:

1. General Elections would take place in St. Vincent and the Grenadines no later than March 2001 and this undertaking would be binding on the Sir James Mitchell Administration, the New Democratic Party (NDP) and any successor administration involving the New Democratic Party prior to March 2001.

2. For purposes of the general elections referred to at (1) above, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will invite the Caribbean Community to send an observer mission to monitor the conduct of the said general elections.

By letter dated 16 February 2001, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines invited the Caribbean Community to field an Electoral Observer Mission to the General Elections in March 2001. On 26 February 2001, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines announced that elections would be held on 28 March 2001.

The CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission has therefore been mounted in response to the invitation of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in keeping with the Grand Beach Accord, and the commitment given by The Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community that the Mission would observe the Elections and remain in St. Vincent and the Grenadines a few days following the Elections.

The eleven-member Observer Mission comprises: –

Core Group:

Mr. Dennis Smith, M.B.E., J.P. – Chief of Mission
Mr. Eugene Petty  – Representative of CARICOM Secretariat

Observer Team:

Mr. John Jarvis  – Antigua and Barbuda
Mr. Carnard Bethel – The Bahamas
Mr. Hensley Robinson – Barbados
Mr. Francisco Zuniga – Belize
Mr. Wilfred Jones – Grenada
Mr. Earl Simpson – Jamaica
Mr. Asyl Warner S- t. Kitts and Nevis
Mr. Carson Raggie – Saint Lucia
Mr. Laurence Thomas – Trinidad and Tobago

The Observer Mission arrived in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on 25 March 2001. The Core Group will remain until 2 April 2001, five days after the Elections, while the Observer Team will depart on 30 March 2001, two days after the Elections.

Members of the Observer Mission will be deployed in St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan and Union Island. Eight Members of the Mission will be based in St. Vincent; and three will be fielded in Bequia, Canouan and Union Island, respectively.

The Objectives of the Observer Mission are as follows:

1. Prior to the Elections, observe the preparations for the elections, hold discussions with stakeholders including Government, opposition parties and civil society, and establish the framework for the operation of the Mission;

2. On the Day of the Elections, observe the electoral process, including the counting of the ballots; collect results to assist in the quantitative verification of the Poll; and collect qualitative observations regarding electoral preparations, comportment of electoral officials and political actors, and on the overall political environment;

3. In the immediate post-election period, observe and assess the outcome of the Elections and the impact on the social and political environment; and

4. Prepare a report on the General Elections and issue a statement based on the Mission?s observations and findings.

Since arriving in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission has held discussions with officials of the Government, representatives of political parties, The Supervisor of Elections, The OAS Observer Mission, and representatives of civil society, including the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM). The Observer Mission has also attended a political rally. These discussions and activities have provided the Mission with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the electoral process, including the preparations for the Elections, and an appreciation of the overall social and political environment.

The CARICOM Electoral Observer Mission is pleased to observe the electoral process in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and is grateful for the cooperation of Government officials, the Supervisor of Elections, political parties and representatives of civil society.

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