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Federated States of Micronesia Election Observers Issue Statement

Election observer and EWC Phd student from Gujarat, India Shakeel Makarani (L) interviews poll workers on Tol Island, Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia.

 


Ballots being prepared to be tallied on Moen, Chuuk State, FSM.

 

HONOLULU (March 20) – An international delegation of election observers who monitored recent elections in the Federated States of Micronesia have issued a statementcongratulating the people of the widely dispersed Pacific island nation “for an open and spirited electoral process, and for conducting an election that generated high voter interest and was free of violence within the FSM.”

 

At the invitation of the FSM national and Chuuk State governments, the Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership (APDP) in cooperation with the East-West Center organized the 18-member delegation to observe the March 3 National Congressional and Chuuk State elections. Headed by the Honorable Eni F. H. Faleomavaega, Congressman from American Samoa and Chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment, the Election Observation Mission included government officials, parliamentarians, academics and civil society representatives from ten countries including Aotearoa (New Zealand), Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Palau, the Philippines, The Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the United States.

 

Prior to the election, the delegates participated in a range of familiarization activities, including lectures by College of Micronesia faculty about local history and culture. The observers also learned about the structure of the FSM’s democratic institutions, and national and state election officials briefed the EOM delegates about the election law and electoral procedures.

 

On Election Day, observers traveled by land and sea to reach polling sites in three states: Chuuk, Pohnpei and Yap. Teams composed of observers and College of Micronesia students who served as guides and translators observed more than 50 polling stations and engaged in conversations with a diverse range of voters, officials and other community leaders. Additionally, members of the mission observed the chain of transmission of the ballot boxes from a number of polling places to the centralized tabulation centers and witnessed the early tabulation process at various sites. No observers were present at off-island polling sites in Honolulu, Guam or Portland, Oregon.

 

“During the week prior to elections, it appears that political campaigning was peaceful, lively, and free of intimidation,” the delegation said in its statement. “The well attended College of Micronesia’s 2009 ‘Solutions Forum’ for the three Chuuk State gubernatorial candidates broadcast live on the radio in Chuuk and streamed live over the Internet was a particularly impressive demonstration of issue-based exchange. Similarly, extensive coverage of the Solutions Forum published in the special edition of Kaselehlie Presssuggests an open competitive campaign. The delegation would encourage the continuation of such exchanges in future elections and the development of means for ensuring broader dissemination of information related to the election.”

 

“Based on Election Day observations representing a sample of voting sites, the APDP delegation noted some irregularities and procedural inconsistencies which may merit further investigation by election officials,” the delegation’s statement continued. “These will be further elaborated upon in the Election Observation Mission’s final report which will be shared with appropriate officials in the FSM and Chuuk State governments. The ultimate legitimacy of the election can only be determined by the citizens of the FSM after all the votes are tabulated anany challenges adjudicated.”

 

The statement concluded: “The delegation is grateful for the opportunity to renew old acquaintances and establish new friendships to build a stronger and more democratic Asia-Pacific community. It is the delegation’s hope that citizens of the FSM will participate in future election observation missions to other areas of Oceania and Asia.”

 

To download the Election Observation Mission’s full statement, visit www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/resources/news/FSM_Election-Statement.pdf .

 

 

The EAST-WEST CENTERis an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States. The Center contributes to a peaceful, prosperous and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the Asia Pacific region and the United States. Funding for the Center comes from the U.S. government, with additional support provided by private agencies, individuals, foundations, corporations, and the governments of the region.