international observers

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Editorials: Venezuela’s Electoral System Unfairly Maligned | Lauren Carasik/Al Jazeera

On Dec. 6 Venezuelans will go to the polls to elect their representatives in high-stakes legislative elections. The vote comes amid international scrutiny over the integrity of the country’s electoral process. The U.S. government, the Organization of American States (OAS) and human rights groups have all called for credible elections. Some in the U.S. media have already indicted the elections’ validity. But these critics ignore the fact that thousands of domestic observers and hundreds of international monitors from the Union of South American Nations and other groups have already signed on to oversee the elections. It is clear that much of the diplomatic posturing is not meant to protect Venezuela’s electoral integrity but to further delegitimize the government of President Nicolás Maduro. No election system is perfect, but Venezuela has one of the most efficient, secure and transparent electoral systems. “The election process in Venezuela is the best in the world,” said former President Jimmy Carter in 2012 — praise echoed by other neutral observers.

Full Article: Venezuela’s Electoral System Unfairly Maligned | Al Jazeera America.

Haiti: U.S. observers: Haiti’s presidential elections deeply flawed | Miami Herald

A team of U.S.-based lawyers who witnessed last month’s Haitian elections say there is mounting evidence showing a clear pattern of systemic fraud, voter confusion and intimidation, and in some areas disenfranchisement. The report paints a grim picture of a flawed, chaotic electoral process on Oct. 25. Not only were voting procedures inconsistently applied at poorly designed polling stations, the report notes, but the widespread use of observer and political party accreditation led to people voting multiple times and potentially accounts for as much as 60 percent of the 1.5 million votes cast. “Without major corrective measures, these elections will represent a significant setback in Haiti’s long-struggle to consolidate democracy,” said the report based on the observations of a delegation of election monitors from the National Lawyers Guild and International Association of Democratic Lawyers Delegation.

Full Article: U.S. observers: Haiti’s presidential elections deeply flawed | Miami Herald.

Haiti: Haiti faces long wait for results of presidential election | Associated Press

Haiti’s voters have spoken. But nobody’s quite sure what they’ve said. Even tentative results of Sunday’s presidential election likely won’t be known for at least 10 days, despite the fact that the election, which involved 54 presidential candidates and tens of thousands of contenders for other races, went unusually smoothly. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won an election. One reason is that it’s against the law for results to be released by anyone other than the Provisional Electoral Council, whose members are replaced every election cycle. “A lot of the learning that is accrued every time they go through an election process seems to be lost,” said Kenneth Merten, Haiti special coordinator for the U.S. State Department and a former U.S. ambassador to the country.

Full Article: Haiti faces long wait for results of presidential election.

Ivory Coast: Results Expected in Ivory Coast Vote | VoA News

Ivory Coast’s election commission is expected to announce Tuesday the first results from an election that was widely expected to give President Alassane Ouattara another term in office. The commission has already estimated turnout from Sunday’s vote at around 60 percent, though a civil society group put the figure at 53 percent. The opposition National Coalition for Change expressed further doubts about the turnout, saying many Ivorians stayed home and fewer than 20 percent actually voted.

Full Article: Results Expected in Ivory Coast Vote.

Haiti: Observers criticize unruly Haiti elections | AFP

International observers and Haitian human rights groups on Tuesday sharply criticized the country’s violence-marred legislative elections as poorly policed and organized. At least two people were killed during voting Sunday that was disrupted by attacks and other problems that forced the early closure of at least 26 polling centers. Pierre Esperance, executive director of a national network of human rights groups, said the disruptions were a blow to democracy in the impoverished Caribbean nation. “The rights of the Haitian people have been trampled,” he said. The elections, which were four-and-a-half years overdue in a country still struggling from the effects of a devastating 2010 earthquake, were to choose the Chamber of Deputies and two thirds of the Senate.

Full Article: Observers criticize unruly Haiti elections - Yahoo News.

Venezuela: Legislative elections date set for 6 December | The Guardian

Venezuela will hold legislative elections on 6 December, election officials announced on Monday after months of mounting pressure from local opposition groups and international observers. The South American country’s laws mandate that national assembly balloting be held this year, but elections officials had delayed setting a date, raising concerns the contest would be cancelled. In her announcement, the elections council head, Tibisay Lucena, said the organisation had always intended to set a date and was not reacting to public pressure.

Full Article: Venezuela legislative elections date set for 6 December | World news | The Guardian.

Venezuela: Date set for elections after mounting pressure | Associated Press

Venezuela will hold legislative elections Dec. 6, election officials announced Monday after months of mounting pressure from local opposition groups and international observers. The South American country’s laws mandate that National Assembly balloting be held this year, but elections officials had delayed setting a date, raising concerns the contest would be canceled. In her announcement, elections council head Tibisay Lucena said the organization had always intended to set a date and was not reacting to public pressure. “These attacks and phony analyses from national experts and international figures have mostly been very ignorant,” she said. The date is timed to commemorate the first election of the late President Hugo Chavez, who launched the country’s socialist revolution when voters chose him overwhelmingly on Dec. 6, 1998.

Full Article: Venezuela sets date for elections after mounting pressure - New Jersey Herald.

Guinea: As Elections in Guinea Approach, the Opposition Raises Some Alarm | Global Voices

With elections rapidly approaching, the Guinean opposition is putting the pedal to the metal in its campaigns for the country’s communal and presidential contests. The last presidential elections in 2010 resulted in a victory for Alpha Condé, who won 52.5 percent of the vote in the second round of the election against former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo.

Full Article: As Elections in Guinea Approach, the Opposition Raises Some Alarm · Global Voices.

Nigeria: Fears of Meddling Raised in Nigerian Election Vote Count | Associated Press

Election officials worked into the night Monday counting the results from Nigeria’s tight presidential vote, while the U.S. and Britain warned of “disturbing indications” the tally could be subject to political interference. Early returns gave former military dictator Muhammadu Buhari seven states while incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan had five, including the Federal Capital Territory. But results from another 25 states were still to be tallied, and 22 states had not yet delivered their results to the counting center in Abuja, indicating a winner could not be announced before Tuesday. As expected, Buhari swept two major northern states of Kano and Kaduna, delivering crushing defeats to Jonathan there. In Kano, the state with the second-largest number of voters, Buhari had 1.9 million votes to Jonathan’s 216,000.

Full Article: Fears of Meddling Raised in Nigerian Election Vote Count - ABC News.

Comoros: Observers Declare Comoros Legislative Election Free, Transparent | Bloomberg

International observers monitoring the second round of legislative elections in the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros declared the vote free and transparent. Voting held on Sunday on the archipelago took place in an atmosphere of “transparency, freedom and serenity,” Samuel Azu’u Fonkam, head of the observer mission sent by the International Francophonie Organization, told reporters in the capital, Moroni. Municipal elections took place alongside the vote for legislators.

Full Article: Observers Declare Comoros Legislative Election Free, Transparent - Bloomberg Business.

Sri Lanka: International observers fear voter intimidation before election | Daily Mail

International observers said Sunday they had received complaints of voter intimidation before this week’s Sri Lankan presidential election, in which the incumbent faces a tough battle to win an unprecedented third term. The 55-member panel of monitors told reporters they had already received complaints that the military had set up 400 roadblocks to discourage minority Tamils from voting freely in former war zones. “According to the opposition these roadblocks are to keep away the voters… (but) we are told (by the authorities) that the military has no role to play in these election,” said the monitoring team leader S. Y. Quraishi. “We are yet to see that.” He said international observers would Monday begin fanning out to the 22 electoral districts across the island to check out the final rallies.

Full Article: Sri Lanka monitors fear voter intimidation before election | Daily Mail Online.

Uzbekistan: OSCE Criticizes Uzbek Vote | Radio Free Europe

The vote monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Uzbekistan’s parliamentary elections lacked real competition. In a statement on December 22, the head of the limited observation mission sent by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said freedom of expression and association are crucial to conducting free and fair elections. The December 21 elections “were competently administered but lacked genuine electoral competition and debate,” Daan Everts said. “More comprehensive steps are needed to provide voters with real electoral choices,” Everts said. Four parties, all of which support President Islam Karimov, competed for 135 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. The remaining 15 seats will automatically go to the pro-government Ecological Movement.

Full Article: OSCE Criticizes Uzbek Vote.

Ukraine: Poroshenko attacks “fake” elections planned by rebels in east | euronews

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has denounced elections which are due to be held in the east of Ukraine in November by rebels. Under a new law signed by the president earlier this week, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have been given ‘special status’ with three-year self-rule and can hold elections on 7 December. The separatists have ignored this and set their own date a month earlier for 2 November. Poroshenko has just returned from Milan where he met with EU leaders and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Full Article: Ukrainian president attacks “fake” elections planned by rebels in east | euronews, world news.

Fiji: Election Hit With Fraud Accusations | Wall Street Journal

Fiji’s election has been thrown into confusion as a united opposition says it has evidence of fraud, contradicting international observers’ findings that the election result looked to be in line with what people wanted. Provisional results give Rear Adm. Voreqe Bainimarama’s party, Fiji First, a convincing lead with more than 60% of the vote, according to data released by the Fijian election authority early Thursday. The military strongman has ruled Fiji for eight years. The nearest opposition, the Social Democratic Liberal Party, known as Sodelpa, won just 27% of the vote, the election authority said. Final results aren’t expected for several days. Peter Reith, the Australian co-leader of the Multinational Observers Group, said that after talking to 92 observers from 15 countries, it had been concluded the elections were “on track to broadly represent the will of the Fijian voters.”

Full Article: Fiji Election Hit With Fraud Accusations - WSJ.

Fiji: Voreqe Bainimarama frontrunner as Fiji awaits election results | The Guardian

Thousands of Fijians got their first chance to vote in eight years on Wednesday in an election that promises to finally restore democracy to the South Pacific nation of 900,000. Military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama, who has ruled Fiji since he seized control in a 2006 coup, is the frontrunner. He is popular, thanks in part to his focus on social programmes, increased infrastructure spending and a crackdown on the media. In early counting, Bainimarama’s Fiji First party had 59.2% of the vote with 804 of the 2,025 polling stations processed, according to official results reported by the Fiji Times newspaper. Its closest rival, the Sodelpa Party, had 28.1%. After casting his ballot, Bainimarama was asked whether he would accept the outcome if he lost. “I’m not going to lose. I will win. You ask that question to the other party,” he said. Then he added, “Of course we will accept the election results. That is what the democratic process is all about.”

Full Article: Fiji awaits election results, with Voreqe Bainimarama frontrunner | World news | The Guardian.

Afghanistan: Abdullah threatens to back out of Afghanistan election | Los Angeles Times

The campaign team of Abdullah Abdullah, the former foreign minister running against Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai for the presidency of Afghanistan, has issued a 24-hour notice to the United Nations and international observers that if changes are not made to processes in the ongoing audit of all 8 million votes cast in the second round of the election, they will back out of the election process entirely. “We will give one day to the international community to review and assure that the vote auditing and the political negotiations are moving forward properly. … If our demands are not met and the auditing not conducted legitimately and the political talks without honesty, then we will withdraw from both processes,” said Abdullah spokesman Syed Fazel Sancharaki. nThe Monday afternoon warning came a week after the team of Reform and Partnership, as Abdullah’s campaign refers to itself, backed out of the audit claiming their concerns about widespread fraud in the June 14 runoff were ignored by the United Nations.

Full Article: Abdullah threatens to back out of Afghanistan election - LA Times.

Afghanistan: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems | The Washington Post

Afghanistan’s election crisis continued to deepen Tuesday as the campaign of second-place candidate Abdullah Abdullah warned that it will abandon a U.S.-brokered deal to end a political stalemate unless major changes are made in how millions of votes are being reexamined. Abdullah adviser Fazal Ahmad Manawi said the candidate has serious concerns that an ongoing audit of more than 8 million votes cast in a June runoff is not stringent enough to catch fraudulent ballots. He called the audit a “joke” and said new procedures must be implemented by Wednesday or Abdullah could walk away from the recount. “If by tomorrow morning our demands . . . are not accepted, our patience has ultimately run out,” said Manawi, who has been who was tasked by Abdullah with monitoring the recount. “We will consider this process a finished one, will not continue in it and not accept it, and the results will have no value to us.”

Full Article: U.S.-brokered accord to salvage Afghan presidential election faces new problems - The Washington Post.

Ethiopia: Electoral manoeuvres in Ethiopia | openDemocracy

Since the overthrow of the communist regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam in May 1991, Ethiopia has organised regular elections in which an increasing number of international actors, especially election observers, have been involved.  During this period, one political organization, the Ethiopian Peoples’ Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), has been dominant. When in control, the prime minister, Meles Zenawi, served continuously as head of government until his death in August 2012. He was succeeded by Hailemariam Desalegn. The tensions and contradictions between external democracy-promoters and the practices and ideals of the Ethiopian leadership were brought into sharp focus after the 2005 and 2010 elections. Both elections led to a diplomatic crisis, especially between the regime and EU observers. However, this conflict did not substantially affect the levels of external aid or the continued dominance of the EPRDF.

Full Article: Ethiopia's electoral manoeuvres | openDemocracy.

Afghanistan: Invalidating fraud votes: Afghan election dispute enters crucial phase | The Express Tribune

Afghanistan’s 10-week election crisis entered a risky new stage on Monday when officials started invalidating fraudulent votes in a process likely to bring to a head the bitter dispute between the presidential candidates. The country has been in paralysis since the June 14 election to choose the successor to President Hamid Karzai, who will step down as US-led NATO troops prepare to end their 13-year war against Taliban insurgents. Karzai has insisted that the delayed inauguration ceremony must be held on September 2, imposing a tough deadline that has raised tensions between supporters of poll rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah. The June vote was quickly mired in allegations of massive fraud, with Abdullah claiming that he had been denied victory after Ghani was declared ahead on preliminary results.

Full Article: Invalidating fraud votes: Afghan election dispute enters crucial phase – The Express Tribune.

Afghanistan: Decision making on election audit result begins | Khaama Press

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) said Monday that the election commissioners are set to meet today to commence decision‐making on the audit of all ballots cast in the Presidential run‐off election of 14 June. “Occurring daily at the National Tally Center, from 25 August until all audit findings have been reviewed, today’s inaugural session is scheduled to begin at 2pm. Candidate agents, national and international observers, United Nations advisors, and media will be present,” IEC said following a statement. The statement furhter added that the commissioners will make their decisions after having reviewed audit findings, as recorded on checklist forms.

Full Article: Afghanistan begins decision making on election audit result - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency.