The Commonwealth Observer Group deployed in Antigua and Barbuda has released an interim statement on the recent general election.
The country voted on 18 January to choose constituency representatives to the House of Representatives.
The Group, led by Former President of Seychelles Danny Faure, found that the election reflected “the will of voters”, and praised the overall conduct of the vote as well as the “calm and peaceful” atmosphere at polling stations.
However, the Group did note that the voter turnout of 67 per cent was the lowest in the last 20 years.
The Group commended the significant participation of women and young people in the electoral process, particularly as polling staff and party agents.
They also recognised the efforts made by the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission to facilitate voting for people with disabilities and prioritise senior citizens in voting lines, as well as the security arrangements provided by law enforcement agencies.
The statement further highlights areas for improvement, specifically calling for a clear separation of powers for democracy to thrive, de-politicisation of the media landscape and action to address shortcomings in the accuracy and transparency of the voter list and tallying process.
The Group’s five-member team observed the pre-election period, voting, and visited all 16 constituencies, having access to all parts of the voting process, including the verification of ballots.
The final report will be presented to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will forward it to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, the country’s Electoral Commission, the leadership of political parties that took part in the election and all Commonwealth governments, and will be made public shortly after.
The Group urged all leaders of political parties, civil society organisations, faith-based group and the people of the country to join hands together in building bridges and creating the Antigua and Barbuda for the next generation.