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Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell, and Latin Leaders to Head Carter Center Delegation to Jamaican Elections

ATLANTA, GA.... Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell, and three former presidents and prime ministers from Latin America and the Caribbean will lead a 55-person Carter Center delegation to observe Dec. 18 parliamentary elections in Jamaica.

The delegation is the first group of international observers invited by the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC) and welcomed by the major parties to monitor elections in Jamaica's history.

"The Carter Center comes to Jamaica to support its long democratic tradition with hope that the presence of the international community will deter any threats of violence or fraud," said President Carter. "We are completely neutral with regard to the outcome of the election, but we are devoted to the democratic process and to supporting Jamaican democracy."

"Jamaicans have a vibrant democratic tradition, which they are determined to preserve and protect," said Gen. Powell. "I am pleased to return to the birthplace of my parents to work with all Jamaicans in raising their confidence in the electoral process and to discourage political violence and acts of intimidation."

The invitation from the EAC was extended to the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government, a group of 29 current and former presidents and prime ministers of the Americas, which has observed 17 elections in 10 countries in the Americas. The Council is based at the Latin American and Caribbean Program of The Carter Center and is led by President Carter. The three other Council members participating in the observation mission are former Belize Prime Minister George Price, former Costa Rican President Rodrigo Carazo, and former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. In addition, three Council members will send representatives.

The Carter Center set up an office in Kingston on Nov. 21 and delegates have been travelling there since then. The main body of the delegation, however, will arrive in Jamaica on Dec. 15 for briefings and will deploy in about 25 separate teams on Dec. 17 throughout the country--from "garrison constituencies" to contested areas, from the north coast to rural villages.

In addition, The Carter Center has sent three pre-election missions--two led by Dr. Robert Pastor, director of the Center's Latin American and Caribbean Program, from Sept. 10-13 and Nov. 21-26 and a third Dec. 9-10 led by the Rev. Joseph Lowery, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

"We were persuaded to observe the elections by many Jamaicans, who feared that violence and intimidation could affect the result and endanger their cherished democracy," said Dr. Pastor. "With a delegation led by President Carter, General Powell, who views Jamaica as his 'second home,' and leaders from Canada, the Caribbean, Central and South America, we hope Jamaicans will be encouraged to vote peacefully and demonstrate to the world their determination to consign electoral violence and intimidation to the past."

The delegation will meet with leaders from the major political parties, CAFFE, the police commissioner, the EAC and the director of the Office of Elections, and others. The Carter Center mission to Jamaica is funded by grants from the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

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