Former President Carter to Observe Nicaraguan Elections With US-Central America, Bjt
ATLANTA (AP) _ Former President Jimmy Carter, who denounced the May elections in Panama as a fraud, agreed Tuesday to lead a delegation to observe next winter’s elections in Nicaragua.
Carter said Tuesday he would assemble a 20-member delegation which will visit Nicaragua at least once before the Feb. 25 elections.
″I will make sure that the members of my delegation will not interfere in the internal affairs of Nicaragua, and we will be impartial with respect to the candidates and parties competing for the election,″ Carter said in a statement.
Carter and a group of Central and South American leaders had received separate invitations to observe the elections from President Daniel Ortega, Mariano Fiallos, president of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council, and from Gustavo Tablada Zelaya on behalf of the National Opposition Union.
Ortega, in a letter dated Aug. 3, invited Carter to ″observe our electoral process from beginning to end″ and said Carter’s delegation ″will have unrestricted access to all aspects of the process.″
Fiallos’ invitation promised free access to ″all the Electoral Council’s information.″
The invitations, Carter said, ″are all positive indications that Nicaraguans want a free and fair election and that the climate for such an event is improving.″
The invitations went to Carter and the Council of Freely Elected Heads of Government, based at the Carter Center of Emory University in Atlanta, a group of 15 current and former presidents and prime ministers of the Americas.
Robert Pastor, director of Emory’s Latin American program, visited Nicaragua in July to assess the electoral conditions and concluded that ″the government in Nicaragua is serious about a free election.″
″The fact that they have invited the person who judged the Panamanian election a fraud is a demonstration of the seriousness and also a recognition that they know Jimmy Carter will be fair and impartial,″ Pastor said.
Carter led a team of international observers monitoring the Panama elections in early May. He accused the government there of stealing the election and later briefed President Bush on his findings.