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Nicaragua turns out to vote.

On February 25, 1990, world attention was focused on the elections in Nicaragua. At that time, there were 434 observers from the Organization of American States in the country. The observer group, led by OAS Secretary General Joao Clemente Baena Soares, included special guests and legislators as well as experts in election law from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, and Venezuela.

The OAS has been an observer of the electoral process in Nicaragua since its inception--from the debates and approval of the electoral law, to voter registration, the electoral campaigns and the voting itself. At the request of the two major political forces in the country, the Organization's presence will continue through the transition period until the inauguration of the new government on April 25, 1990.

During the process of voter registration and elections, OAS observers assisted in all nine electoral regions of Nicaragua. Communications among regions and personnel were facilitated by a sophisticated, independent system which permitted the instantaneous transmittal of information. The Organization also installed a high tech computer system for parallel voter tabulation. To move personnel over the rugged terrain, as well as in the cities, all types of vehicles were used: cars, buses, jeeps, bicycles, boats, airplanes, and even mules and horse-drawn carriages.

On election day, Secretary General Baena Soares visited a total of 16 polling stations in eleven cities. The first was a ballot-receiving board set up at the Loyola Institute in Managua, which had the largest number of registered voters. When OAS observes arrived just before 6:00 a.m., there was already a long line. Some people had been there since nine o'clock the night before, hoping to be among the first to vote.

"The first person in this line was an elderly woman about 80 years old," remarked the Secretary General in a report to the representatives of OAS member countries in Washington, D.C. "She told us how moved she was because this was the first and probably the last time that she would exercise her right to vote." The feelings of this woman were representative of the enthusiam of the Nicaraguan voters and of their all-out participation in this electoral event.

The Secretary General also observed that "a new perspective for action in the Organization has unfolded here." He praised the tremendous spirit of cooperation between the observer group, the Nicaraguan officials, all of the political parties, and the electoral authorities. " ... I feel that Nicaragua and the Nicaraguan people have emerged from this process strengthened. The inter-American system has also been strengthened, and so has this Organization."
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Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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