Tuesday, October 09, 2007

OAS chief praises Costa Rican referendum

(Xinhua News) - Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), praised Costa Ricans on Monday for their civic spirit demonstrated in their calm and mass participation in Sunday's referendum on a free trade agreement.

According to results published by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), 51.7 percent of votes were in favor of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which would create a free trade area covering the United States and Central America.

Some 60 percent of Costa Rica's 2.6 million eligible voters participated in the referendum. The turnout of at least 40 percent of eligible voters was needed to make the poll valid.

Insulza visited the TSE's headquarters and lauded Costa Ricans for their responsibility shown in their first ever referendum.

An OAS observer mission oversaw the referendum on Sunday.

The OAS had already said in a previous statement that the mission would remain in Costa Rica for a few more days compiling all the evidence needed for a report on the referendum, to be presented to the body's permanent council.

The statement also called on all Costa Ricans to respect the result.

The Costa Rican government signed the treaty in 2004, but the nation's legislature voted for a referendum because of political controversy over the issue.

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