In a statement issued today, the observer mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) made an overall positive assessment of yesterday’s presidential and municipal elections, but said continued reform is needed to address concerns such as pervasive allegations of vote-buying and the near absence of any editorial coverage of the campaign in the media.
“These elections provided voters with a wide choice of political options, and they took place in an environment which showed respect for fundamental freedoms,” said Vadim Zhdanovich, the Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission. But he stressed that further efforts are needed to enhance the integrity of the election process and increase public confidence.
The observers noted that the elections were administered in an overall professional manner and on the basis of new legislation that provides a sound basis for the conduct of democratic elections.
The registration process was inclusive, and candidates were able to campaign freely and without impediments.
But persistent and widespread allegations of vote-buying undermined confidence in the election process, despite the authorities’ efforts to combat such practices.
Almost all campaign coverage by the media was paid for by the contestants, as provided by law. This resulted in the near absence of independent editorial coverage or analysis of the campaign in the public and private media. The predominance of paid campaign coverage impacted negatively on the level of information available to voters.