12 December 2015

Statement by: Commonwealth Election Observer Team to St Vincent and the Grenadines General Elections 2015

The Commonwealth Election Observer Team commends the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for the peaceful and orderly manner in which they exercised their franchise on 9 December. We call on all citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines to sustain the positive spirit of peace and commitment to democratic values that characterised Election Day.

We have met with all major stakeholders including the Supervisor of Elections, representatives of all political parties, civil society organisations, church leaders, the media, the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force as well as national and international observers.

The Team observed voting in the 13 constituencies on the mainland. The following is an interim statement outlining our key observations of the election process and the electoral environment.

We witnessed the conclusions of the main rallies that were held after our arrival. We observed that these rallies were peaceful, vibrant and engaging. The fundamental rights of candidates, political parties and supporters to assemble and campaign were broadly observed. However, in our briefings, attention was drawn to the lack of regulation on campaign finance and the absence of legislation surrounding the registration of political parties.

The Team believes that the 15-day special voter registration period does not allow adequate time for political parties, voters and concerned stakeholders to scrutinise the voters’ list, and make objections and appeals.

We note with concern the low percentage of women candidates in the elections.  The Team observed that advocacy efforts to progress issues surrounding women’s political leadership face a number of challenges in St Vincent and the Grenadines, primarily due to cultural barriers. We urge political parties to demonstrate visionary leadership on this issue, and to review their selection processes to significantly increase the number of women in representational politics and in positions of party leadership and decision-making.

The poll was inclusive and benefitted from a seventy-three percent voter turnout. We noted that political party agents were present at most polling stations, although not all parties were represented. Recognising the current political context, the Team is of the view that this helped to foster an environment of transparency at polling stations.

At stations observed by the Team, polls opened and closed at the prescribed time. The closing and preliminary vote-counting at the polling stations appeared in line with established protocols and were conducted in a transparent manner by polling officials. We would however encourage political parties to ensure that their party agents are present throughout the entire tabulation process up until the final count conducted by returning officers the next day. In this regard, it may also be helpful for relevant stakeholders in St Vincent and the Grenadines to initiate a meaningful conversation on the utility of having the second and final count conducted the following day.

We strongly urge more clarity in the law, around the formal announcement of election results to the voting public in relation to the official formation of a new government which has secured the majority of seats.

We commend the Supervisor of Elections for the manner in which she has carried out her duties and steered the process to successfully administer the General Election on 9 December. The Team nevertheless believes that the time has come for St Vincent and the Grenadines to deepen its democracy by establishing an independent election management body, in order to increase voter confidence. If requested, we urge the Commonwealth Secretariat to support stakeholders in St Vincent and the Grenadines in the establishment of such a body.

Based on our observation and exchanges with a broad range of stakeholders since our arrival, our preliminary conclusion is that the elections were generally peaceful and relatively well conducted. The shortfalls observed to date by members of the Team are not significant enough to put in question the credibility of the outcome.

As of today 12 December 2015, we have heard allegations of serious irregularities from one political party. We call upon those making these claims to file formal complaints as prescribed in the electoral laws, and for the relevant institutions to investigate and pronounce on these allegations.

In our Final Report, we will reflect on possible areas for improvement. This report will be submitted in due course to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth who will subsequently share it with relevant stakeholders before it is made public.

Notes:

The Commonwealth Election Observer Team was constituted at the invitation of the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Team comprises 2 eminent persons: Mr. Paulo Cuinica (Team Leader), Commissioner and Spokesperson of the Mozambique Electoral Commission; and, Ms Myrtle Palacio, former Chief Elections Officer (Belize) and currently Secretary-General of the People’s United Party (Belize).

9 replies on “Commonwealth’s Interim Statement on SVG 2015 Elections”

  1. The of observers said the elections were fare and peaceful . The NDP give the impression that the elections were rigged . I therefore call on the NDP to apologize to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines for the upheaval it has caused following the elections .
    Failing to do so i think the commissioner of police or the office of the director of prosecutions should bring chargers against the instigators of this upheaval .
    They have done an injustice to the people of SVG .

    1. Smithie are you blind and deaf. There is evidence and it will be presented to a court. Such actions will start today, how long the process will take we will have to wait and see.

      What we do know is that at Central Leeward there were the same number of votes cast as there there names on the voters list. When the previously sealed boxes were inspected at the police station it was found the seals had been removed. It is also found that people were purported to have voted who were not in the country and one lady living in Tobago has confirmed that.

      There are several other matters of evidence which will only be disclosed to the court.

      So Smithie get back to shoeing horses and leave the political work to your boss.

  2. At least this organization has stated there could be some irregularities. Not like other observers that ore obviously there to cheat for Ralph. Some of the other observers are VERY close to Ralph and the ULP. Does anyone in their right mind believe that strong ULP supporters are going to remain unbiased as observers?

    1. I believe you are a lost pet. The ndp had a lost box. Seems like everything lost.

      They said that they heard allegation of irregularities from one party(cry babies).

      They also said that they have no substantial evidence to question the outcome of the election.

      Trust me, the ndp lost. No hope for them. Tell them wheel and come again in 2020.

    2. I would like to know why the Commonwealth brought an observer here from Mozambique a country with the third most corrupt voting system in the world.

      Such a person would be looking for people with guns shooting voters and terrorizing voting stations, of course what they saw here was a million times better than they had ever seen in their own country. Compared to the Frelimo run country SVG is paradise.

    3. It really seems as if NDP supporters have just discovered the term “irregularities” for the first time. You do realize that based on their observations, their conclusion was that any shortfalls were “not significant enough to put in question the credibility of the outcome”.

      Since you do not seem to have your critical thinking cap on, let me help: to-date, there is no unbiased official observer who questions the authenticity of the election outcome. We are all just sitting around, waiting for the NDP to fabricate substantial evidence. Of course, except the NDP supporters who have completely accepted this as gospel without asking hard questions. I mean, it must be bliss to have someone else do all of your thinking for you.

      1. It really seems as if NDP supporters have just discovered the term “irregularities” for the first time. You do realize that based on CEO team’s observations, their conclusion was that any shortfalls were “not significant enough to put in question the credibility of the outcome”.

        Since you do not seem to have your critical thinking cap on, let me help: to-date, there is no unbiased official observer who questions the authenticity of the election outcome. We are all just sitting around, waiting for the NDP to fabricate substantial evidence. Of course, except the NDP supporters who have completely accepted this as gospel without asking hard questions. I mean, it must be bliss to have someone else do all of your thinking for you.

  3. The preliminary report makes two important observations the NDP should carefully consider:

    1. Though there may have been some irregularities, these were not sufficient to negate the overall results.

    2. Any irregularities should be dealt with using the electoral laws.

    Who should we believe? The NDP sore losers who claim that the election was totally rigged and that the people should take to the streets to protest or an impartial international body which has called the election fair and free and has called upon is to follow the rule of law?

    1. I forgot to add that the OAS also called the elections fair and free.

      Mr. Eustace, please call off your mad dogs and resign like a big man!

      The simple, simple fact is that the people of SVG have now four times rejected you to lead them. Which part of “no” can’t you understand?

      Yes, many of us know that Ralph Gonsalves is not fit to lead us. But if fitness to lead is the criterion, we would have seen such worthless leaders as Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — just to name the worst presidents the USA have had over the past decades — run out of office by a crazed mob.

      The overriding issue is upholding the democratic will of the majority of the people regardless of how foolish they were to return Ralph Gonsalves to office.

      Please don’t bring us a coup d’etat and blood in the streets!

Comments are closed.