Ukraine looks to have faced down both the Kremlin and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe over the issue of Russian election observers at its presidential election in March. The OSCE was forced to change stance after Ukraine adamantly refused to accept Russian observers of the March 31 vote, and its parliament on Feb. 7 passed a law banning them from being accredited to the OSCE mission. The Russian Foreign Ministry announced a day later that Russia had decided not to send its observers to Ukraine. And the OSCE, while expressing regret over the Ukrainian authorities’ position, also backed down.
Ukraine’s parliament has barred Russian citizens from serving as election monitors during an upcoming presidential election. The Supreme Rada voted to exclude Russians from international observers’ missions that will be monitoring the voting in Ukraine next month. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe submitted a list of candidates for the Ukrainian monitoring missing and it included two Russians. The organization’s observers are considered one of the most credible voices on elections in the region.
A top official at an observer group that monitored Bangladesh’s election, as well as one of its foreign volunteers, have said they regret participating in the process, casting doubt on the credibility of a vote won overwhelmingly by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling alliance. The president of the SAARC Human Rights Foundation told Reuters he now believed there should be a fresh vote after hearing accounts from voters and officials presiding over polling booths that activists from Hasina’s Awami League stuffed ballot boxes the night before the poll and intimidated voters. “Now I have come to know everything, and can say that the election was not free and fair,” said Mohammad Abdus Salam, a 75-year-old former high court division justice.
A senior official at the US embassy in Dhaka said on Saturday that Washington was planning to send 12 observer teams to monitor the December 30 parliamentary elections in Bangladesh. Each team will comprise two observers and will monitor polls in various constituencies across the South Asian country, William Moeller, a political officer at the US embassy in Dhaka, told the Reuters news agency. “The Bangladesh government has emphasized that it plans to hold a free and fair election,” Moeller said.
More than 50,000 national and international observers will monitor Bosnia’s eight post-war election whose campaign has less than a week to run. The Central Electoral Committee has accredited 2,9191 observers, but this figure only refers to those who will be observing the CIK and the main vote collection centre. “International observers can submit their request by October 7, while municipal electoral committees are in charge of accreditations on that level,” Maksida Piric, from the CIK, told BIRN. The delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council Of Europe is coming on October 5 in a mission, joining 486 other confirmed international observers.
Australia will co-lead the Multinational Observation Group (MOG) for the 2018 General Election. Together with Indonesia and India, the three parties will observe and evaluate the functions and operations of the Fijian Elections Office with respect to the 2018 Fijian General Elections. Acting Prime Minister and Minister responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum signed the terms of reference for the MOG with the Australian High Commissioner John Feakes and the Indonesian Ambassador to Fiji Benyamin Scott Carnadi signing on behalf of the two countries. The Indian Government will be signing subsequent to the Indian High Commissioner returning from Nauru next week.
Election observers should be neutral and objective as they monitor parliamentary polls due to take place from September 2 to 4. The call was made Thursday by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) while briefing over 950 observers who have been accredited to assess election activities. They include 184 foreign observers. Over 7.1 million Rwandans have registered to vote for their representatives in parliament for a five-year-term. Although observers enjoy the right to unfettered access to electoral processes, there are basic rules that guide them, said Loyce Bamwine, a commissioner at NEC as she was presenting election observers’ code of ethics. “Election observers should maintain strict political impartiality during the observation period,” she reminded them.
For the first time in a Swedish election, observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will be present in the country to oversee the vote, according to reports in Swedish media. “This is the first time we have had any form of mission or observation activity in Sweden for an election,” the organization’s spokesperson Thomas Rymer told Sveriges Radio. The decision was made following discussions with politicians, representatives of the Swedish media, and some of those involved in organizing the election.
Britain on Friday said it shared concern expressed by international observer missions over reports of pressure on the media in Pakistan and the number of parties with links to proscribed groups who preach violence and intolerance during the Wednesday elections in the country. Noting that Jinnah’s vision of a tolerant, pluralist Pakistan remained central to a stable and cohesive Pakistani society, foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said the election marked an “unprecedented second successive transfer of power from one full-term civilian government to another”.
Cambodia: Election monitoring groups in Cambodia headed by Prime Minister’s son, ‘ambassador’ | Reuters
Three of the groups approved to monitor Cambodia’s election have close ties to Prime Minister Hun Sen, one headed by his son and the other two led by a man who was appointed by the Southeast Asian country’s strongman ruler as a “goodwill ambassador”. Cambodia heads to the polls on July 29 for an election criticized by the United Nations and Western countries as fundamentally flawed after the dissolution of the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and imprisonment of its leader, Kem Sokha, last year. The United States and the European Union responded to the crackdown by withdrawing financial support and monitors from the election, a step followed by independent local and international NGOs that had overseen previous elections.
The National Election Committee has warned civil society organisations that intend to deploy observers to monitor the election on July 29 without being registered that they will face the law. The NEC issued a statement on Saturday informing all its Phnom Penh and 24 provincial election committees to closely monitor election watchdog Comfel for training its volunteers to monitor the election on July 29, noting that the NGO was infringing on the Law on Political Parties, election law and law on NGOs and associations.
A Canadian organisation is seeking to fundraise 7,000 Canadian dollars (€4,500) to send up to 24 independent electoral observers to Ireland for the referendum campaign to assess whether both sides “play fair” in the process. Non-governmental organisation SDAI-ADID says it is interested in “supporting and strengthening democracy through election observation” and that it wants to observe whether the electoral process adheres to “international standards of free, fair and transparent elections”.
International observers have delivered a damning verdict on the parliamentary election in Hungary, complaining of “intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing”. The vote on Sunday delivered an overwhelming victory for Viktor Orbán, who will now serve a third consecutive term as prime minister. Orbán and his Fidesz party campaigned almost exclusively on a programme of keeping migrants out of the country. “Rhetoric was quite hostile and xenophobic and that’s a fact which we find regrettable in an electoral context,” said Douglas Wake, the head of the monitoring mission for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), at a briefing in Budapest on Monday. The observers found that the hostile campaign “limited space for substantive debate and diminished voters’ ability to make an informed choice”. They also noted that public television “clearly favoured the ruling coalition”.
El Salvador’s legislative and municipal election preparations are being closely monitored by members of the European Union’s Election Observation Mission, who are verifying that the balloting is carried out according to law, observer Gloria Sierra told EFE. Along with her mission companion Michal Nobis, Sierra travels to various municipalities in San Salvador province to meet with assorted officials comprising the country’s political and social fabric to gather data for the Mission’s final report, a document that is designed to help reflect the country’s democratic health. With “absolute impartiality,” the observers’ workdays consist of following an agenda full of meetings and visits to key sites in the process leading up to the March 4 municipal and legislative elections.
The observer mission of Atlanta based US group Carter Center is recommending to national government to carry out proper revision of electoral legislation that will help in addressing election gaps here. “We encourage the government to carry out a full review of electoral legislation through an inclusive process to address gaps and inconsistencies with the goal of bringing the legal framework in line with international standards for democratic elections,” the US group said Thursday, 28 December in Monrovia.
Following Somaliland’s third presidential election on 13 November 2017, the 60-member mission, funded by Britain’s government and drawing on members from 27 countries is now finalizing its interim report to Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission as observers return to Hargeisa. Says chief observer Dr. Michael Walls of the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London (UCL) and Somaliland Focus UK: “On election day, we are pleased to have observed a poll that in the main seems to have preserved the integrity of the electoral process. While we are aware of some key concerns, these do not seem to be substantive and systematic enough to have undermined the election itself, and we congratulate Somaliland on a largely peaceful process; another progressive step in their electoral evolution.”
The European Union Mission to Liberia has reportedly deployed ten long-term Election Observer Teams across the country ahead of next month’s elections scheduled for October 10. The EU said the group of election experts consists of one woman and one man each. They are part of the EU Election Observation Mission to Liberia that will observe the Presidential and Legislative Elections. After three days of intensive briefings and preparations in Monrovia, the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) in Liberia deployed all 20 long-term-observers and drivers into the regions of the country. Ten woman and ten men from 20 different European countries are observing the Presidential and legislative elections in all 15 Liberian counties.
Accused of glossing over flaws in Kenya’s election which later caused the result to be overturned, international observers are under a harsh spotlight ahead of a re-run next month.
The August 8 poll, which saw President Uhuru Kenyatta re-elected, was annulled by Kenya’s Supreme Court earlier this month on grounds of “irregularities and illegalities”, notably in the transmission of election results. The shock decision put foreign observers in a particularly difficult position, accused by Kenya’s opposition and many media outlets of being too quick to declare the elections were “free and fair” in a preference for the status quo over democracy. But observers themselves – and some analysts – told AFP this characterisation was unfair, saying enthusiastic praise for part of the electoral process was mistaken for endorsement of the whole. And they point to the media, as well as Kenya’s polarised public and combative opposition, for over-simplifying and misinterpreting their messages.
The re-run of Kenya’s presidential election after the Supreme Court invalidated the Aug. 8 vote for irregularities has exposed high-profile observer missions sent by The Carter Center, the European Union and others to allegations that they endorsed a faulty process with generally supportive reviews of what they witnessed on voting day. Last week’s surprise court ruling nullifying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election has been called a first in Africa. Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who challenged the vote in court and claimed vote-rigging, turned his anger on observer missions, accusing them of moving quickly “to sanitize fraud.” He said their role should be examined. As Kenya wonders whether officials can get the election right a second time around, observer missions that included former Secretary of State John Kerry and former African leaders face criticism that they viewed the vote too narrowly and were inclined to favor the stability associated with the incumbent leader.
The Carter Center has launched an international election observation mission to Liberia’s Oct. 10 presidential and legislative elections. Six long-term observers recently joined a core team of experts already on the ground. Together, the team represents six countries. The Center’s observers will meet regularly with representatives of the National Election Commission, political party candidates, civil society organizations, the international community, and citizen election observers to assess electoral preparations and the pre-electoral environment, including election administration, campaigning, voter education, and other issues. They will be joined by a larger delegation of election observers in October that will assess the voting, counting, and tabulation processes.
Foreign Minister, Madam Marjon Kamara and the head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, Amb. Tiina Intelmann, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concerning the observation of the 2017 presidential and representative elections – one final act as head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. Ms. Intelmann leaves the country shortly after a successful two and half year stint as head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. According to a Foreign Ministry release, the MoU signed between the Government of Liberia and the European Union at the Foreign Ministry on Monday, August 28, is based on an invitation extended to the EU on February 1st, 2017 by the Government to observe the 2017 presidential and representative elections.
For a nation that only won its hard-fought battle for independence 15 years ago, Timor Leste has travelled a long way fast. On 22 July, the Timorese people voted for the fourth time in parliamentary elections to elect the 65 members of the National Parliament. As the first election administered solely by the Timorese themselves, without the guiding hand of UN officials, Saturday’s poll was a significant milestone and a remarkable success. After all, this is a nation that has had to more or less build its democracy from scratch. Former revolutionary leaders exchanged their fatigues for business attire, drafted a constitution and created democratic institutions and governance. Of course there was help from the international community but there is no taking away from what has been achieved on the ground.
Papua New Guinea: PNG citizens deprived of the right to vote – Forum observer team | Radio New Zealand
The Pacific Islands Forum’s election observer team to Papua New Guinea says a large number people were deprived of their constitutional rights to vote during the past month’s polling. The team deployed from 19 June to 24 July, and observed pre-polling, polling, and counting. In an interim statement released yesterday the observer group said there were several significant challenges noted, the most serious of which was the alarmingly large number of names missing from electoral rolls. It said this was especially disappointing given the team observed high levels of civic awareness and interest in participating in the election.
Angola has rejected conditions demanded by an EU election observer mission that had been preparing to witness next month’s polls in the country, state media reported on Monday. The European team had called for unfettered access to polling stations across the vast southern African nation during the August 23 vote. “So this is Africa. And we do not expect anyone to impose on us their means of observing elections or to give lectures,” said Foreign Minister Georges Chicoti according to the Journal de Angola newspaper. “The invitation stands. But we do not want to have separate agreements with all of the organisations (sending observers).”
Germany: OSCE mulls monitoring German election, as far-right complains of ‘massive interference’ | The Local
The intergovernmental OSCE organization is considering whether to send a monitoring mission to the upcoming German election after speaking with each of the parties, Spiegel reports. Spiegel reported on Monday that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is deciding whether to monitor the September 24th German national election. For the first time, delegates from the OSCE met with party leaders of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party at their central headquarters, who provided documentation of “attacks, violence, obstructions, and criminal acts against AfD members through private and public positions” as well as “individual acts and in their alarming sum make up a massive interference in a democratic competition for votes in the parliamentary election campaign.”
In a report released this week, election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region made 21 recommendations to improve the voting process in the Cayman Islands. Their observations, especially those concerning suffrage and campaign finance, deserve serious consideration. Of particular note, the observers took issue with the obvious – the unequal weight of voters depending on the districts in which they reside. For example, East End’s 692 registered voters have a disproportionately greater impact in their district’s elections than, say, the 1,513 registered voters in Bodden Town East. The Sister Islands are also way out of balance. Observers also voiced concerns about lengthy residency requirements for voters – even those of Caymanian status – and the exclusion of permanent residents from voting. This is the junction at which voting rights and human rights oftentimes collide. But some of the most troubling shortcomings found by observers are in the area of campaign finance.
The Cambodian government should rescind its recent order restricting independent election monitoring groups, Human Rights Watch said today. On July 4, 2017, a month after the country’s flawed commune elections, the Interior Ministry issued a letter to two election-monitoring organizations to cease their activities in alleged violation of the country’s nongovernmental organization law. The government’s action sets the stage for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) to broaden restrictions on election monitoring prior to the 2018 national elections. “The Cambodian government appears intent on quashing any challenges to its political control – and obviously doesn’t want any witnesses,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “Cambodia’s donors should call for the government to rescind these orders and ensure independent monitoring of the 2018 elections.”
More than 800 election monitors will be deployed nationwide to observe and make independent reports on the National Election. Electoral Commissioner Patilias Gamato said yesterday the international and local monitors will report back to their respective organisations, heads of governments and the government on the credibility of the PNG election process. “We have invited international election monitors or observers to visit during the months of June and July to see whether we have planned well for the election and also see if we followed the rule of law and the election laws on conducting the 2017 National Election,” Mr Gamato said in a statement.
Transparency International has pledged a rapid assessment of potential irregularities in Sunday’s commune elections by sending 1,100 observers across Cambodia—including, if needed, by boat and helicopter. At a news conference in Phnom Penh on Monday, Preap Kol, executive director of Transparency International Cambodia, said USAID had donated nearly $200,000 to fund the Election Day operations, in which a sample of 410 polling stations out of 22,148 would be observed. The plan was to produce a report more quickly than other organizations carrying out comprehensive assessments, Mr. Kol said.
In response to an invitation by the Gambian authorities, the European Union has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to The Gambia to observe the Parliamentary elections scheduled for 6 April 2017. This would be the first time the EU would be deploying a fully-fledged EOM in The Gambia, reflecting the EU’s commitment to supporting credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country in a framework of broader democratic reforms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, has appointed Mr Miroslav Poche, Member of the European Parliament, as Chief Observer.