Contact: Deborah Hakes, 404-420-5124
In light of the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council's (CSE) publication of the Electoral Accompaniment Regulations on Aug. 16, 2011, The Carter Center wishes to explain its conditions for observing the Nicaraguan elections in 2011. They are the same conditions under which we were invited and agreed to observe the elections in 1990, 1996, 2001, and 2006.
The Carter Center is pleased to see the reports about the conditions negotiated by the European Union to observe the Nov. 6 elections in Nicaragua in line with the Declaration of Principles on International Electoral Observation, a document signed by 35 international organizations since 2005 to guide the practice of election observation. We urge the CSE to make public the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and to officially extend the same terms to other experienced international and national observation organizations. Because the CSE claims that the Reglamento for Electoral Accompaniment has been misinterpreted, we further suggest that the Reglamento be repealed or modified to clearly elaborate the provisions of access, freedom of movement, and freedom of speech required in the Declaration of Principles and included in the EU MOU, and to comply with Nicaraguan law. Leaving the Reglamento unchanged will only continue the confusion for this electoral process and future ones.
The Carter Center remains concerned about problems identified by various Nicaraguan political and civil actors in the early phases of the current electoral process, before any formal observation began. Some of these repeat problems that we noted in our 2006 election observation report (PDF), namely incomplete and cumbersome process of obtaining ID cards, lack of representativeness in the naming of electoral officials for departmental and municipal councils and voting sites, and a voters list that is outdated and inflated. In addition, we note the 2010 extension of the mandates of the CSE magistrates outside of the constitutionally prescribed procedures.
The Carter Center practice in election observation is to observe all the critical phases of an election process, from voter registration to voting day to dispute resolution, as all of these phases can affect the voting results. The delays of the CSE in clarifying the terms of reference for election observation mean that it is not possible for The Carter Center to organize a mission for the Nov. 6 elections as we have in the past. Nevertheless, if acceptable conditions are officially established and made available to all experienced national and international organizations who desire to observe and who likewise commit to follow the obligations of observers listed in the Declaration of Principles for International Electoral Observation, we will be able to consider a limited experts mission to be present for the Nov. 6 elections.
We continue to encourage Nicaraguan citizens to exercise their right to participate and to vote and to scrutinize the process themselves, as recently called for by President Ortega.
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