OAS – EOM: The Colombian presidential elections

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COLOMBIA / USA – The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS), headed by the former minister of foreign affairs of Paraguay Eladio Loizaga, meet the people of Colombia after the presidential elections of Sunday, May 29.

The Mission celebrates that in most of the territory the event took place peacefully. However, it strongly condemns the armed confrontation that took place toward the end of the day in the municipality of Vista Hermosa, Meta, in which a poll worker was killed and an army lieutenant was injured. These types of actions constitute an unacceptable attack on the innocent population, the electoral system and democracy, which the Colombian people have built with so much effort.

The OAS Mission, which arrived in the country in stages beginning May 20, was made up of 87 specialists and observers of 29 different nationalities. Its members were present in 25 of the 32 departments of the country, as well as in the city of Bogotá, to directly observe the preparations and development of the election. They analyzed and followed up on key aspects of the process such as electoral organization and voting abroad, electoral technology, electoral justice, campaigns and freedom of expression, and electoral violence.

On election day, the Mission visited 457 centers and observed 1,335 polling stations in Bogotá and the departments of Cundinamarca, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Atlántico, Magdalena, César, La Guajira, Santander, Bolívar, Córdoba, Sucre, Risaralda, Quindío, Boyacá, Casanare, Huila, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Cauca, Chocó, Caldas, Caquetá, Putumayo and Tolima, and monitored throughout the day from the opening of the voting centers to the counting and transmission of results.

The Mission highlights the increase in electoral participation in relation to the March legislative elections, as well as with respect to the last two presidential elections, and highlights the high participation of women, both as poll workers and as witnesses, in the polling stations visited.

The Mission welcomes the improvements implemented after the legislative elections, specifically regarding the operability of the “InfoVotantes” application, which fulfilled its function of being a consultation tool for citizens. It also highlights that citizens received timely and uninterrupted information the night of the election.

Likewise, the Mission welcomes the respectful and constructive pronouncements of the presidential candidates, in which they recognized the will of the citizenry expressed through the ballot box. The OAS Mission will once again be present in Colombia to follow up on the second round on June 19 between the candidates Gustavo Petro and Rodolfo Hernández.

Based on the meetings held with various actors in the process, the analysis of Colombian legislation and direct observation, the Mission today presents a series of recommendations that we hope will be considered for the second round.

The Mission thanks the government of Colombia, especially the Presidency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defense, the National Electoral Council, the National Registry of Civil Status, as well as the political groups, the candidates, the academic and civil society organizations and other actors with whom it met, for their willingness to share information and their points of view on the electoral process observed. These were fundamental inputs for the work carried out by the Mission and contributed to its success.

Likewise, it thanked the governments of Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, Italy, Peru and Sweden for the financial contributions that made this Mission possible.

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