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OAS Mission Presents Report on Belize’s 2015 Election

Belize held its general elections in November 2015 with an observation mission from the Organization of American States being in-country taking note of the entire process including the operations at the poll stations as well as the counting of the ballots.  Four months later, that OAS observation mission has finalized its report which was presented yesterday to the organization’s Permanent Council.  The report has described the elections in Belize as being a, quote, ‘generally inclusive and clean electoral process’. As it relates to the time leading up to the actual elections, the OAS Mission noted that there were open lines of communication between the election authorities and the political parties as well as an improved methodology in place for the tabulating and processing of results.  The Chief of the OAS Mission to Belize was Jacinth Henry-Martin and in her presentation there was a series of recommendations made on several areas including the participation of women and young persons, campaign financing, electoral management and voter registration.  Another recommendation coming out of the report was the need to have measures taken which would ensure greater integrity and confidence in the voters list.  Those measures suggested are the comprehensive re-registration of voters and a review of the current electoral legal framework and the adoption of measures to enhance the neutrality of electoral administration.  In the area of campaigning, the report listed that as a concern, saying, quote, “the active presence of large groups of political party supporters outside of voting centres, could produce an environment that would make it uncomfortable for some voters to express their preferences without feeling outside pressure”.  End of quote.  In this regard the mission has recommended efforts that will seek to protect voters’ ability to express their choice without outside pressure; it also recommended that there be a stricter and more uniform enforcement of the law when it comes to the 100-yard rule.  The members of the OAS mission had visited all districts on Election Day as well as seventy two percent of the 225 polling stations around the country.