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Carter Center Notes Progress, Flags Problems in Nicaragua's Electoral Process

ATLANTA, Ga….In a report released today, The Carter Center praised the political climate in Nicaragua in preparation for its November presidential election. Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) has made substantial progress toward holding a good election, the report stated, including assisting voters with registration and identification documents through the Complementary Plan for Citizen Cedulation, accrediting political parties, registering candidates for office, and verifying the voters list. The report also commends civil society groups, such as Ethics and Transparency, that are organizing for election observation and civic education efforts.

While applauding those steps, the Center did urge the CSE to hold its promised simulations of the vote transmission systems. Failure to do so before the municipal elections in November 2000 caused unexpected delays and doubt about the results among the public, according to the report. In addition, the CSE should make an explicit public commitment to assure it will have a quorum of its members to promptly make decisions throughout the election process.

In addition, the CSE has taken an unusual step in asking political parties to share in the responsibility of training electoral officials. In the report, The Carter Center expressed its concern that such training programs conducted by the parties might include inappropriately partisan material and that differences in the parties' resources may be reflected in the quality of training. The Center urged the CSE to supervise the training to assure that high standards are met and invite election observers to attend these trainings.

"The international community is very interested in supporting the Supreme Electoral Council and Nicaragua's citizens in this election," said Dr. Shelley McConnell, associate director for the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program. "These elections are key to strengthening democracy in Nicaragua, and The Carter Center welcomes this opportunity support democratic improvements."

The Center has observed national elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and 1996. Another pre-election visit is scheduled for early October. For the complete text of the report, please visit the Center's Web site at for Nicaragua.

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