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After Repeated Vote Tie OAS Fails to Elect New Secretary General

The election process will continue on May 2

Posted: April 12, 2005

After five rounds of voting for Secretary General ended in a tie, the 34 members of the Organization of American States (OAS) decided to meet again on May 2 to continue the process of electing a new Secretary General for the hemispheric organization.

The two candidates—Chile's Interior Minister, José Miguel Insulza, and Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Luis Ernesto Derbez emerged with 17 votes each during five rounds of voting that took place at OAS headquarters in Washington, where the foreign ministers and other heads of delegation met to vote.

The thirtieth special session of the OAS General Assembly, chaired by Panama’s First Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Samuel Lewis Navarro, announced the new election date of May 2 after the heads of delegation met and so decided following the repeated vote tie. Under Article 74 of the General Assembly rules of procedure, if no candidate is elected after two additional rounds of voting—that were held this afternoon—the election would resume as determined by the delegations.

Lewis Navarro concluded the session after thanking the delegations for placing confidence in him and in his country to preside over the meeting. He also thanked everyone for actively participating.

OAS Acting Secretary General Luigi Einaudi, meanwhile, thanked the foreign ministers and the heads of delegation for their participation and underscored the candidates’ qualifications and participation of the countries in a process he described as “reflecting clearly the organization’s potential and its role in the quest for hemispheric consensus.” He said today’s process attested to the vibrant democracy that is at work in the hemisphere, and expressed his pride in the free and open process that took place.

Following the April 11 voting that produced a deadlock, the U.S. State Department's Roger Noriega said the United States is supporting Mexico's candidate.

"I see no reason [why] the United States would not continue its support for Minister Derbez," said Noriega, who is the Department's assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

The United States was previously supporting a third candidate -- El Salvador's former President Francisco Flores -- until Flores dropped out of the race April 8.

After Flores withdrew, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher released a statement April 9 saying the United States "has the highest respect" for the two remaining candidates, and would "undertake consultations with our partners at the OAS aimed at electing the best possible candidate for Secretary General."

Boucher added that the United States "is prepared to work fully and constructively with whomever is elected."

The secretary-general's position has been vacant since October 2004, when Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the former Costa Rican president, resigned shortly after taking office to face corruption charges in his country.

Source: OAS



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