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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Lead Delegation to Observe Presidential Elections in Nicaragua

ATLANTA, GA… Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will lead a Carter Center delegation to Nicaragua to observe its November 4th presidential elections. Prior to his visit, the Center will send a second pre-election assessment team to Managua September 27, 2001, led by former Peru President Valentín Paniagua, former US Ambassador Gwen Clare, and Dr. Shelley McConnell of The Carter Center.

In a bulletin released today, the Center praises Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) for its progress on three issues flagged by the Center as problematic last July. The Council has agreed to train polling officials itself rather than allowing political parties to conduct the training; has pledged to stay in session until the election is held rather than breaking quorum over internal disagreements as it did in June; and has held two of four planned simulations to test the vote transmission process which proved faulty during last year's municipal vote.

In its July report, the Center noted the Supreme Electoral Council's progress on certifying political parties and candidates, but warned that partisan control of the electoral authorities had reduced public confidence in elections. During last year's municipal vote the Center declared Nicaragua's electoral law the toughest in Latin America because of the high organizational hurdles groups must leap to form parties and alliances. Only three parties have entered the presidential race this fall, and no alliances have formed.

"The changes last year to the electoral law and constitution pushed through by the two dominant political parties in Nicaragua made it extremely difficult for other parties to form and run candidates in elections," said President Carter. "The conduct of the parties and election authorities in the upcoming elections will test whether the new institutional framework is fair and effective, or whether partisan reforms eroded the neutrality and competence of Nicaragua's democratic institutions."

"We trust the Nicaraguan government will assure that adequate resources are provided on a timely basis to hold high quality elections, and that the Supreme Electoral Council will fix the problems revealed during the first two tests of the vote transmission system," added Dr. Shelley McConnell, associate director of the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program.

President Carter also led Carter Center delegations to observe the Nicaraguan presidential elections in 1990 and 1996 and is chair of the Center's Council of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas. The Council is a group of 35 former leaders from the Western Hemisphere whose members include former Nicaragua President Violeta Chamorro and former Peru President Valentín Paniagua.

Founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, The Carter Center is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization committed to advancing peace and health worldwide. Learn more about the Center's work in Nicaragua.

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