Commonwealth observers in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have issued an interim statement on the general elections of 9 December 2015, declaring the polls to be“generally peaceful and relatively well conducted”.
Reported results indicate that the election was won by the governing Unity Labour Party, led by Ralph Gonsalves. More than 88,000 people were eligible to vote to elect a 15-member House of Assembly.
The Commonwealth Election Observation Team, led by Paulo Cuinica, Commissioner of the Mozambique Electoral Commission, observed that the poll was “inclusive”, with a reported 73 per cent voter turnout.
In their preliminary statement, the observer team noted that allegations of irregularities had been made by one political party, however they concluded "the shortfalls observed to date by members of the team are not significant enough to put in question the credibility of the outcome.”
“As of today 12 December 2015, we have heard allegations of serious irregularities from one political party. We call upon those making these claims to file formal complaints as prescribed in the electoral laws, and for the relevant institutions to investigate and pronounce on these allegations,” the observers state.
The Supervisor of Elections was commended by the two-person Commonwealth team for successfully administering the election process. The observers however recommended that an independent election management body be established “in order to increase voter confidence”.
“We strongly urge more clarity in the law, around the formal announcement of election results to the voting public in relation to the official formation of a new government which has secured the majority of seats,” said the observers.
The team noted “with concern” the low percentage of women candidates in the elections and urged parties to review their selection processes accordingly. In addition, they raised concerns that the 15-day special voter registration period does not allow adequate time for political parties, voters and concerned stakeholders to scrutinise the voters’ list, and make objections and appeals. In addition, the observers drew attention to the lack of regulation on campaign finance and the absence of legislation surrounding the registration of political parties.
Parties contesting the election include the United Labour Party and New Democratic Party, each fielding 15 candidates, as well as the Green Party which is contesting seven seats, and the Democratic Republican Party, which is fielding six.
The final observations of the Commonwealth Election Observation Team will be detailed in full in a report to be submitted to the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and relevant stakeholders before being made public.