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NDI Delegation to Observe Jan. 9 Election for President of Palestinian Authority

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today announced its delegation that will observe the Jan. 9 election for president of the Palestinian Authority. The 80-member multinational delegation, organized in partnership with The Carter Center, will be co-led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. The delegation will include elected officials, electoral and human rights experts, regional specialists, and political and civic leaders from 15 countries in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. NDI and The Carter Center had organized a delegation co-led by President Carter for the 1996 elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council and president of the Palestinian Authority.

The presidential poll is the second in a series of elections to advance democratic institutions in the Palestinian Authority. Local elections were held Dec. 23 and voting for the Palestinian Legislative Council is expected as early as spring 2005. The purpose of the NDI delegation is to express the international community's interest in and support for Palestinian efforts to develop a democratic election process, and to provide an impartial and accurate report on that process to the international community.

During the period leading up to the Jan. 9 election, NDI organized two assessment missions that, along with a permanent staff presence in Jerusalem since September, have monitored and reported on preparations for the upcoming polls. These assessment missions found consensus and optimism surrounding the election but recommended immediate action on several key issues related to freedom of movement, voting in Jerusalem, and voter education. The report of the latest mission is available on the Carter Center Web site. The pre-election missions and the international observer delegation are supported by a grant from USAID.

From Jan. 5-8, the delegation will meet in the region with Palestinian government officials, civil society leaders, electoral authorities, candidates, and political analysts. Teams of delegates will then deploy to approximately 40 sites in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The day before the election, each team will meet with local election officials, party representatives, civic groups, and others to assess the election environment at their deployment sites. On election day, the teams will visit polling places and counting centers in their respective regions.

Following the counting of results, the teams will reassemble in Jerusalem for debriefing and to prepare a preliminary delegation statement, which will be released Monday, Jan. 10.

The delegation will conduct its activities in a nonpartisan, professional manner in accordance with applicable law and international standards for election monitoring. NDI will be in close communication with other international observer delegations including the European Union observer mission.

NDI is a nonprofit organization working to strengthen and expand democracy worldwide. Calling on a global network of volunteer experts, NDI provides practical assistance to civic and political leaders advancing democratic values, practices and institutions. NDI works with democrats in every region of the world to build political and civic organizations, safeguard elections, and to promote citizen participation, openness, and accountability in government.

NDI began working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1994 in anticipation of the first Palestinian elections. In 1996, NDI and The Carter Center organized a delegation co-led by President Carter that monitored preparations for the Palestinian elections and observed the balloting process in more than 200 polling stations in all 16 electoral districts. Following the elections, NDI launched the grassroots civic education program Civic Forum that became an independent Palestinian-run organization in 1998. From 1996 to 1998, NDI conducted a legislative-strengthening program with the newly-elected Palestinian Legislative Council. More recently, NDI has begun a long-term political party-strengthening initiative.

A schedule of press opportunities for the delegation will be announced shortly.

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