Saturday, November 28, 2009

Caricom Says Vote OK

CARICOM observer mission pleased with referendum
November 28, 2009

The CARICOM Observer Mission yesterday said it was pleased with conduct of the National Referendum on the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution Bill 2009 held last Wednesday.

Nearly 56 percent of voters rejected a referendum that would have replaced the British monarch with a president chosen by Parliament, according to preliminary results released early Thursday by the elections commission.
Both of the country’s parties want to replace the queen with a president as head of state. But opposition leaders had urged voters to reject the proposed constitution, arguing it did not sufficiently reduce the powers of the prime minister, who would remain as head of government. They also said citizens rather than Parliament should elect the president.

The vote came as Queen Elizabeth II is on a rare visit to the region to attend a Commonwealth summit in Trinidad.

The CARICOM Referendum Observer Mission said in a statement yesterday “the results of the Referendum reflected the will of the people and their commitment to the democratic process.”

The Observer Mission also complimented the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for “maintaining a peaceful environment and participating in this historic process.”

The main objectives of the Mission were to observe and monitor the conduct of the Referendum and in particular, the activities on the polling day, including the counting of the ballots.

In general, the management of the polling stations was good, the mission stated, noting that the referendum officials managed the polls impartially and competently and it was obvious that the voters were adequately informed about the voting procedures.

The day of the referendum was incident free, the mission stated, pointing out that voters were generally orderly and patient.

“There were no signs of intimidation of voters nor was there any campaigning inside and outside of the polling stations.”

The Mission will submit its findings, analyses and recommendations in a report to the Secretary General of the CARICOM Secretariat.