OAS labels elections ‘free and fair’
By Guardian Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas
Calling Monday’s general election “free and fair”, the Organization of American States (OAS) electoral observation mission yesterday offered four preliminary recommendations to The Bahamas government after monitoring the country’s electoral process.
The OAS team recommended the “adoption of a legal framework on the financing of political parties and campaigns in order to enhance the accountability, transparency and equity of the democratic process”.
The team also recommended the process of redrawing constituency boundaries and the membership of the Boundaries Commission be independent of the government.
This recommendation was also an issue visited in the 2002 referendum.
The majority of Bahamians polled (57,291) voted against the creation of an independent Boundaries Commission, with 30,903 voting in favor of it.
The mission also encouraged the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (BCB) to “provide access to all political parties and candidates in a free, fair and independent manner”.
The mission also encouraged political parties to incorporate more women in leadership positions and as candidates.
“[The year 2012] marks the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage in The Bahamas,” said Alfonso Quinonez, chief of the mission for the observation team.
“For this election there were, 18,574 more women than men registered as voters. However, the increased participation of women as voters has not yet translated into other key areas of political participation. Only 22 out of the 133 candidates for this election were women.”
Former prime minister and Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Hubert Ingraham noted on the campaign trail that women would be a deciding factor in the election.
This was the first time that outside observers were invited to monitor an election in The Bahamas.
Teams from the OAS and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were at various polling divisions on Monday.
Quinonez said it was an honor to observe the general election and noted that his team monitored 30 constituencies on election day.
“OAS international observers visited 189 polling stations throughout election day,” he told reporters.
“In all observed cases police were present and helpful to ensure a peaceful atmosphere. Voter participation was high and estimated at 88 percent.”
Quinonez pointed out that the mission would soon present to the OAS permanent council a detailed report that would be made available on the OAS’ website.
May 09, 2012