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Editorials: Venezuela’s Electoral System Unfairly Maligned | Lauren Carasik/Al Jazeera

On Dec. 6 Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their representatives in high-stakes legislative elections. The vote comes amid international scrutiny over the integrity of the country’s electoral process. The U.S. government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and human rights groups have all called for credible elections. Some in the U.S. media have already indicted the elections’ validity. But these critics ignore the fact that thousands of domestic observers and hundreds of international monitors from the Union of South American Nations and other groups have already signed on to oversee the elections. It is clear that much of the diplomatic posturing is not meant to protect Venezuela’s electoral integrity but to further delegitimize the government of President Nicolás Maduro. No election system is perfect, but Venezuela has one of the most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. “The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” said former President Jimmy Carter in 2012 — praise echoed by other neutral observers.

Full Article: Venezuela’s Electoral System Unfairly Maligned | Al Jazeera America.

Myanmar: Carter Center frets over election credibility | Myanmar Times

As the third week of election campaigning kicks off, an international monitoring group is already raising alarm over the credibility of the elections. In a statement, the U.S.-based Carter Center questioned the legitimacy of the candidate scrutiny process that scrubbed more than 100 election hopefuls from the final list. Though the Union Election Commission reinstated 11 Muslim nominees just before the Carter Center released its findings on September 25, 75 candidates continue to be barred from the polls, largely due to the alleged citizenship status of their parents. “Although the number of disqualified candidates is relatively small, restrictive requirements, selective enforcement, and a lack of procedural safeguards call into question the credibility of the process,” the report stated.

Full Article: Carter Center frets over election credibility.

Myanmar: Rights group urges Myanmar to prevent Rohingya disenfranchisement | Bangkok Post

A US-based rights group has urged Myanmar to prevent the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya from voting in crucial November elections after the minority were stripped of their identity cards earlier this year. The Carter Center also warned that growing anti-Islamic hate speech in the Buddhist-majority nation could see religious tensions flare during the upcoming campaign period. Myanmar authorities began collecting temporary identification documents from minority groups, mainly the displaced Rohingya in western Rakhine state, in April — a move which takes away their voting rights.

Full Article: Rights group urges Myanmar to prevent Rohingya disenfranchisement | Bangkok Post: news.

Venezuela: Ex-President Carter shuts down electoral office in Venezuela | Associated Press

A pro-democracy foundation run by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has shut down its 13-year-old electoral observation office in Venezuela as the South American country gears up for closely watched legislative elections. In a monthly report on Venezuela’s political outlook published Wednesday, the Carter Center said it closed its Caracas office May 31 to concentrate its limited resources in other countries that have solicited its help. It said it would continue to monitor events from the center’s headquarters in Atlanta. The Carter Center has been a frequent observer of elections in Venezuela and it mediated talks between the socialist government and opposition following a 2002 coup that briefly unseated then President Hugo Chavez.

Full Article: Ex-President Carter shuts down electoral office in Venezuela - StarTribune.com.

Guyana: Opposition Vote Count Shows Victory Over Ruling Party | Associated Press

An opposition coalition challenging the governing party and the racial politics that have long dominated in Guyana said Tuesday it appeared to have won national elections, though official results had not been released. The leader of the Partnership for National Unity-Alliance for Change told reporters the coalition’s own tabulation of publicly available results from nearly all polling stations gave it a substantial lead over the governing People’s Progressive Party. Opposition candidates for Parliament had more than 180,000 votes, compared to nearly 130,000 for the ruling party, David Granger, a retired army general who leads the coalition, said at a news conference in the capital. “There is no way that the PPP can close this gap that we have opened up,” Granger said.

Full Article: Guyana Opposition Vote Count Shows Victory Over Ruling Party - ABC News.

Guyana: Guyana goes to the polls in hotly contested national elections | Miami Herald

For decades, the two main political parties in this English-speaking South American outpost have been divided along racial lines with one drawing its well-spring of support from African descendants and the other from the country’s East Indian population. But changing demographics and the emergence of a multiracial third party have turned Monday’s election for president and parliament into one of the most closely watched since this former British colony transitioned from socialism to democracy 23 years go.

Full Article: Guyana goes to the polls in hotly contested national elections | Miami Herald Miami Herald.

Guyana: Carter Center raps divisive election campaign in Guyana | Jamaica Observer

The Carter Center says Guyana’s electoral preparations appear to be on track, even as it expressed deep concern about divisive campaign rhetoric ahead of the May 11 polls. Since April, The Carter Center has deployed a team of five experts and six medium-term observers throughout the Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to observe preparations for the elections. They have conducted observation in all 10 of Guyana’s electoral districts and held meetings with a wide range of stakeholders, including political parties, the election commission, civil society organisations, and the judiciary.

Full Article: Carter Centre raps divisive election campaign in Guyana - News - JamaicaObserver.com.

Guyana: Former president Carter reflects before milestone mission | Associated Press

Dozens of trips to monitor elections abroad have left former President Jimmy Carter hopeful about the future of many countries adopting democracy but concerned about the election process in the U.S. Carter spoke with The Associated Press on Thursday in Atlanta ahead of a May trip to Guyana that will mark the Carter Center’s 100th mission and his own 39th observation trip. The program is a large part of what Carter once called his “second life” since forming the human rights organization in 1982 after leaving the White House. The milestone represents “an opportunity to contribute to democracy and freedom,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that the work that the Carter Center has done in monitoring elections has encouraged people to have more honest elections.”

Full Article: Former president Carter reflects before milestone mission - Fairfield Citizen.

Nepal: Protests heighten tensions ahead of election | theguardian.com

Protests and logistical challenges are heightening tensions before a scheduled 19 November national poll in Nepal that is seen as critical to the country’s stability and development, say analysts. Voters are to choose a new constituent assembly (CA), which serves as the country’s parliament. The previous assembly dissolved in May 2012 after failing to produce a much-anticipated postwar constitution. Citizens have looked to a new constitution to help the country emerge from the 1996-2006 civil war that killed more than 15,000 people. But the contentious issues that stalled its drafting, including how to structure the state and share power, remain unresolved. In January 2013, the UN noted that high-level political stagnation was allowing the “slow but persistent deterioration of democratic institutions and effective governance”. The humanitarian costs of the constitutional stalemate are high. Without it, several pieces of legislation, including a disaster management act and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, have been on hold. Meanwhile, logistical challenges and threats of violence loom over the polls.

Full Article: Nepal protests heighten tensions ahead of election | Global development | theguardian.com.

Nepal: Tensions mount as Nepal contentious election nears | IRIN Asia

Protests and logistical challenges are heightening tensions before a scheduled 19 November national poll in Nepal that is seen as critical to the country’s stability and development, say analysts. Voters are to choose a new Constituent Assembly (CA), which serves as the country’s parliament. The last assembly dissolved in May 2012 after failing to produce a much-anticipated post-war constitution. Citizens have looked to a new constitution to help the country emerge from the 1996-2006 civil war that killed more than 15,000 people. But the contentious issues that stalled its drafting, including how to structure the state and share power, remain unresolved. In January 2013, the UN noted  that high-level political stagnation was allowing the “slow but persistent deterioration of democratic institutions and effective governance”. The humanitarian costs of the constitutional stalemate are high. Without it, several pieces of legislation, including a disaster management act and the establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, have been on hold. Meanwhile logistical challenges and threats of violence loom over the polls.

Full Article: IRIN Asia | Tensions mount as Nepal contentious election nears | Nepal | Conflict | Governance | Human Rights.

Venezuela: Why the voting is more trustworthy than the polling | guardian.co.uk

Polling – or perhaps more importantly, the abuse of polling data – has a checkered history in Venezuela. I will never forget the day of the presidential recall referendum in 2004. I was sitting in the BBC studio in Washington, between a TV and radio interview, and the fax machine spat out a release from what was then one of the most influential Democratic polling and consulting firms in the United States: Penn, Schoen, Berland and Associates. “Exit Poll Results Show Major Defeat for Chavez” was the headline. The agency claimed to have interviewed an enormous sample (more than 20,000 voters at 267 voting centers), and found that Chávez had been voted out of office by a margin of 59% to 41%. I looked up at the producer who gave me the fax with more than a bit of perplexity. With good reason: the actual result of the referendum was the opposite: 58% to 41% against the recall. The Organization of American States and the Carter Center observed the election and made it clear that there was no doubt that the results were clean. Given the actual vote, the probability of the variation in PSB’s result was less than 1 chance in 10 to the 490th power, if you can imagine something that unlikely. The producer put the press release aside. “I’m not doing anything with this unless there’s another source,” she said.

Full Article: Venezuela election: why the voting is more trustworthy than the polling | Mark Weisbrot | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Venezuela: Carter Centre absent as observer from Venezuelan October presidential election | MercoPress

The Carter Centre was among the organizations that sent observer missions to monitor Venezuela’s last presidential vote in 2006, along with the European Union and the Organization of American States. Venezuelan electoral authorities have since stopped inviting full international observer missions and have instead asked some foreign individuals to witness voting in smaller-scale “accompaniment” visits. The Carter Centre said in a statement that the council invited it to “form an intermediate option” and send a small group of experts to join in pre-election audits and be present on voting day.

Full Article: Carter Centre absent as observer from Venezuelan October presidential election — MercoPress.

Venezuela: US Carter Center: Venezuelan Electoral System one of the Most Reliable in the World | venezuelanalysis.com

The Venezuelan electoral system is the most reliable in the world, because it can be audited and verified at every stage, said Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program. She made the comments while visiting the Panorama publishing house, where she was welcomed by its president, Patricia Pineda. McCoy came to Venezuela a few days ago and observed the mock electoral test of last Sunday (5 Aug 2012) in Vargas state. She noted that the Carter Center is currently discussing whether it will participate as an international observer in the October 7 [presidential] election.

Full Article: US Carter Center: Venezuelan Electoral System one of the Most Reliable in the World | venezuelanalysis.com.

Libya: Carter Center Observers Encouraged With Libya Vote | VoA News

An official of the U.S.-based Carter Center poll monitoring delegation said the group is pleased with the organization of Libya’s first election in over four decades. Alexander Bick, field director of the Carter Center’s mission in Tripoli, said the poll observer group is encouraged by the level of participation by Libyan voters in the just ended poll. “The High National Election Commission has really done a remarkable job…Many people were wondering, ‘Would Libya be able to hold elections on this very tight timeframe, just coming out of the conflict and with really no history of elections being practiced here,’” said Bick. “I can say with confidence that we’ve been very impressed with the performance of the electoral commission, by the organizational ability that they’ve shown, by their commitment to hold this election on time.  The materials were largely delivered to all the polling places and even against quite challenging odds.”

Full Article: Carter Center Observers Encouraged With Libya Vote.

Libya: Carter Center to send election monitors to Libya | WSET.com

The Carter Center is sending observer teams to Libya to monitor and report on that country’s July 7 parliamentary elections. Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement Wednesday that he hopes the center’s limited mission will contribute “to a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process and will support Libyans’ aspirations to build a strong democracy.” Voters will elect a national assembly that is expected to write a new constitution for Libya. The election will be Libya’s first national vote since the capture and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi last October.

Egypt: Carter Praises Transparency of Presidential Election | allAfrica.com

Former United States President Jimmy Carter praised Egypt’s presidential election, particularly the high participation, considering it a model for the world to follow. Carter said, “The Carter Centre to monitor elections – which he heads – has monitored more than 90 elections worldwide, but the most important was Egypt’s presidential election, which was blessed with transparency, an eagerness to participate, integrity and an overwhelming turnout”, the Middle East News Agency reported. Carter’s statement came during his meeting with Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb in his office.

Full Article: allAfrica.com: Egypt: Carter Praises Transparency of Presidential Election.

Egypt: Carter Praises Transparency of Presidential Election | allAfrica.com

Former United States President Jimmy Carter praised Egypt’s presidential election, particularly the high participation, considering it a model for the world to follow. Carter said, “The Carter Centre to monitor elections – which he heads – has monitored more than 90 elections worldwide, but the most important was Egypt’s presidential election, which was blessed with transparency, an eagerness to participate, integrity and an overwhelming turnout”, the Middle East News Agency reported. Carter’s statement came during his meeting with Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb in his office.

Full Article: allAfrica.com: Egypt: Carter Praises Transparency of Presidential Election.

South Sudan: South Sudan: Carter Center Praises Progress On National Election Bill | allAfrica.com

The Carter Center a non-profit and non-governmental organization has recommended the progress on legal framework in the National Election bill especially series of Public debates organized by the National Legislative Assembly Committee of Justice. “Following a series of public hearing the South Sudan’s National Legislative Assembly is in final review of stages of the National Elections Bill to establish the framework for political competition in future elections in South Sudan, taking to account that passage of an elections bill is needed to move forward with by-elections for vacant legislative seats at the State and National Level, the Carter Center encourages all stakeholders to continue to contribute a thorough debate on the draft bill” the Carter Center said in a press release obtained by The Citizen. The Center in advance of the third reading of the legislation has raised several key issues contributing to the discussion by Members of the Assembly offered suggestions in the spirit of supporting Parliament to craft a healthy and credible electoral law that helps ensure South Sudan meets International standards and best practices for democratic elections.

Full Article: allAfrica.com: South Sudan: Carter Center Praises Progress On National Election Bill.

Congo: Tshisekedi Says He Won, Can He Prove It? | Congo Planet

Unlike the Independent National Electoral Commission, which published the results of the presidential election showing why it says Joseph Kabila won and for everyone to see and scrutinize, Etienne Tshisekedi has so far provided no proof to support his claim of an outright victory. Yet, the longtime opposition leader has said, once again, that he now considers himself president.
Does Mr. Tshisekedi expect all Congolese to just trust his word? He must have proof that he is the one who was elected. Not Joseph Kabila, Vital Kamerhe, or Kengo wa Dongo. There must be pictures out there, videos, signed summaries of the tallies at polling stations,…  These claims of victory, coming from such a respected politician, cannot be baseless.

Of course, Mr. Tshisekedi declared himself president even before the Nov. 28 presidential elections. His proof then was that “the Congolese people have already chosen me.” Well, maybe in a parallel universe they did. But in this world, we humbly ask for proof of Mr. Tshisekedi’s victory. The Carter Center, the European Union, the United States, have said that the elections “lacked credibility”, “were not transparent”, “were seriously flawed.” Great! Maybe someone out there has the proof that Mr. Tshisekedi won. Or do they? It’s one thing to say that the 2011 elections were marred with irregularities; it’s completely different to claim that the opposition won. Even these international observers missions have not gone that far.

Full Article: Tshisekedi Says He Won, Can He Prove It? | Congo Planet.

Congo: UN Mission Urges Review of Issues Raised By Election Observers | allAfrica.com

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today called on the country’s electoral authorities to review the issues raised by independent observers about the recent DRC presidential and parliamentary polls, saying there were “significant irregularities” in the results process.

The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) said in a press release that it strongly urged the DRC’s Independent National Electoral Commission (known by its French acronym, CENI) to undertake “a timely and rigorous review” of the issues raised, particularly regarding the counting and tabulation of votes.

It said the review should have “the full participation of witnesses and observers, including foreign observer groups, who may offer to provide technical advice.” MONUSCO’s statement noted that the Carter Center International Election Observation Mission in the DRC and other observer missions had issued statements voicing concern about the management process.

Full Article: allAfrica.com: Congo-Kinshasa: UN Mission Urges Review of Issues Raised By Election Observers.