Wednesday, June 17, 2009

37 years in the making – “a genuinely competitive, fair, and honest election in Lebanon” reports President Carter and his delegation

I received this letter from President Jimmy Carter today reporting on the efforts in the Middle East. Because many of you know of our support of the Carter Center’s efforts, I wanted to share it with you.

Dear Mark,

Last Sunday, something happened in Lebanon for the first time in 37 years: the nation held a genuinely competitive, fair, and honest election.

As millions of Lebanese citizens went to the polls to take a stand for democracy, I was there with a delegation of 60 observers from The Carter Center to provide an independent assessment of the vote.

Our team has created a video capturing the Carter Center’s work in Lebanon on Election Day to show you what it was like for us on the ground. After several grueling days of work, David Carroll, director of the Carter Center's Democracy Program, took time out to record this video for you from the region.

Please watch the video and pass it along to everyone you know who is interested in democracy in the Middle East.

As the election proceeded, all of us from The Carter Center were encouraged by what we saw.

Turnout was very high — especially among women — and there were few problems with the election administration. Crucially, the opposition parties accepted the results of the vote almost immediately.

This went a long way toward bolstering the credibility of the election.

But there is still progress that can be made. For example, there are no pre-printed ballots, so often voters use ballots distributed by political parties — undermining the secrecy of the vote. And despite the high turnout among women, Lebanon can do more to create opportunities for women to run for office.

After our work in was Lebanon was finished, I traveled across the Middle East to help build on the momentum of last week's successful election. I visited Syria, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza to help advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Click here to read my full trip report.

I hope you'll stay tuned for future updates about Carter Center efforts to spread peace and democracy throughout the world.

Thank you for all your support.


President Jimmy Carter

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