OSCE mission to observe elections in Belarus
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly is planning to send a full observation mission for parliamentary elections in Belarus, which will be held on September 23.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly Ricardo Migliore called the mission "the most important aspect of our activity" during his opening statement in Monaco, where he announced the observation of elections in Belarus.
Starting from 2010, when more than 50 parliamentarians took part in monitoring the presidential elections, none of the elected officials of the OSCE has not been granted access to Belarus. The previous OSCE mission of the election observation, chaired by the parliamentarian from the United Kingdom Tony Lloyd, critically evaluated the lack of transparency in the counting of ballots. Since then, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly expresses its extreme concern over the situation with freedom of movement in the country and the situation of political prisoners.
The head of the mission will be the chairman of the PA OSCE Committee on Human Rights Matteo Mekachi, the press service of the PA OSCE informs.
"We have started this mission to monitor the elections with an open heart, offering our hand to our friends from Belarus", said Mekachi. He expressed hope, that the mission will see "significant positive changes compared to the previous elections", and that "everyone, including those now under house arrest or in prison, will be able to participate in the parliamentary elections freely and without restriction".
On July 9 the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly adopted by an overwhelming majority the resolution on Belarus, which calls on the Government of Belarus to immediately and unconditionally release and to justify all political prisoners in Belarus, to restore licenses to practice for law attorneys who have been deprived of them for their professional activities on the protection of the opposition and civil society, and to allow representatives of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to visit the jailed political prisoners in Belarus.
On July 16-18, Director for the PA OSCE programs Anna Chernova took part in the Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) in cooperation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
Officials in Minsk confirmed their willingness to cooperate with the OSCE mission for the elections observation in accordance with the official invitation, which welcomed the participation of observers from the OSCE, not limiting their numbers.
Needs Assessment Mission held meetings with the officials responsible for elections, parliamentarians, political parties and movements (registered and unregistered), representatives of the Presidential Administration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Justice, the state media, as well as with independent journalists and non-governmental organizations.
Opinions in the Belarusian opposition were divided about whether the presence of OSCE mission in the upcoming elections is reasonable. Thus, the United Civil Party and BCD Committee are against the presence of the mission. The OSCE elections observation is considered as necessary by "A Just World" Party and the Movement "For Freedom".
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observed the elections in Belarus in 1995, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.