Colombia

Preliminary Report of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission for the 2018 legislative elections in Colombia

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The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (EOM/OAS) in Colombia, headed by the former Vice President of Costa Rica, Kevin Casas Zamora, deployed a team of 20 experts and observers to cover the legislative elections and inter-party consultations in six departments and the Capital District. It is important to emphasize that these were the country’s first elections since the signing of the Peace Agreements in which the FARC participated as a political force after more than half of century of armed conflict.
The Mission began its deployment on March 5 with the arrival of the first observers. They included experts – from 11 countries – on electoral organization and technology, political financing, women’s political participation, and the electoral participation of indigenous peoples and afro-descendants. During the week before the elections, the Mission held meetings with electoral and government authorities, representatives of the political parties, potential presidential candidates, and civil society organizations. On election day, the members of the Mission observed the setup and opening of the polling stations, the voting process, and the count. The observers were also present at the Unified Command Post and the Data Processing Center of the National Civil Registry.
The Mission wishes to emphasize the significant reduction of the risks to public order associated with the voting process. This was a positive contribution allowing the elections to be organized and conducted in a climate of tranquility without any need to change voting centers, except in one case in the entire country. In terms of public order, yesterday’s elections were the most tranquil in many years. This needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.
Despite the above, the EOM/OAS expresses its concern regarding the attacks suffered by some presidential candidates and other political actors involved in campaign activities. The Mission strongly condemns these acts and calls for their prompt investigation.
In view of the upcoming presidential elections, it is important that both politicians and citizens avoid polarization and intolerance in their speeches and comments. Colombia deserves to have an electoral debate conducted within a climate of civility and respect for everyone’s ideas. In a democratic society, legitimate differences of opinion should be peacefully resolved through the vote. Elections can and should be an opportunity to sow the seeds for peaceful coexistence.

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