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Carter Center Declines to Observe Venezuelan Regional Elections Oct. 31

Press release

15 Oct 2004 - ATLANTA….The Carter Center thanks the Venezuelan National Electoral Council for its invitation received Oct. 8 to observe the election of governors and mayors, but the Center, unfortunately, has had to decline the invitation. When accepting invitations to observe, the Center evaluates whether it has the capacity to organize an adequate delegation and whether all of the major political parties desire the Center's participation. The Center's methodology, as in previous occasions, requires observation of all stages of an electoral process and a sufficient delegation to observe audits or conduct quick counts. The Center does not have sufficient time or resources to organize such a mission at this time.

Acceptance by the major political parties is important for the observation mission to contribute to public confidence in the process. The lack of acceptance of the Center's reports on the previous electoral process by the opposition Coordinadora Democratic and the opposition members of the Follow-up Mechanism (Mecanismo de Enlace) to the May 2003 Accords make difficult the goal of increasing confidence in the electoral process.

The Carter Center will continue to follow the appeals process and decisions rendered to complaints posed by political groups to the National Electoral Council and the Supreme Court of Justice to complete the Center's duties of observation of the Aug. 15 recall referendum.

The Carter Center also will initiate discussions among the major international observer organizations on the observation of automated voting systems, drawing lessons from the Venezuelan experience, among others. The Center also has been involved in ongoing efforts with other international organizations to build consensus on a set of principles to guide international election observation.

Citizen confidence in electoral processes is vital for democracy to flourish. Such confidence is particularly important in divided countries like Venezuela and often requires extraordinary efforts to provide safeguards that can generate trust. For this reason, the Center applauds the communication between the National Election Council and the candidates and urges the National Electoral Council to continue its meetings with political parties and to regularly inform the public about its decisions and preparations.

The Center remains committed to Venezuela and hopes the country will find the path to reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance, and protection of rights of every citizen.

CONTACT: Pedro Antonuccio

In Caracas, cell 0416-638-5541



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