October 10, 1998
Carter Center to monitor Venezuela elections

                  ATLANTA (Reuters) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said
                  Thursday he will send a team of observers to monitor December 6 elections
                  in Venezuela, where a tense campaign has led to rumours of coups, death
                  threats and plots.

                  "Venezuelans, who have a rich and strong tradition of democracy, will be
                  holding the most complex elections in their history, during a time marked by
                  substantial political change," Carter said in a statement.

                  "Whenever we monitor an election, our role is to support the democratic
                  process," he said. "Only the Venezuelan people may determine their

                  An oil-rich country of 22 million people, Venezuela has long been one of
                  Latin America's most stable countries.

                  But two failed military uprisings in 1992, the first led by the front-runner in
                  the presidential race, Hugo Chavez, remain fresh in the minds of
                  Venezuelans and have raised questions of whether he would be allowed to
                  take power if he wins the vote.

                  Military coups, threats and plots are daily fodder in Venezuelan newspapers.

                  Carter is scheduled to be in Venezuela next Monday and Tuesday, which is
                  Election Day in the United States. He said he would discuss with election
                  officials and candidates Venezuela's progress in implementing a new
                  electronic voting system.

                  Venezuela will hold regional elections on Nov. 8 and the presidential election
                  on Dec. 6, when a 26-member delegation will be deployed throughout the
                  country to observe the vote count and performance of the new voting

                  Chavez has topped opinion polls for the presidential vote since March
                  although his lead has been cut in recent weeks by Yale-educated economist
                  Henrique Salas, the favoured candidate of the business community.

                  Carter lost power to Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980 after a single term
                  in office but has won world renown for diplomatic trouble-shooting as a
                  private citizen from his Carter Centre in Atlanta.

                  Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited