OSCE Spells Out Confidence Building Measures for Election

YEREVAN (RFE/RL/Noyan Tapan)–The election observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe urged Armenian authorities to take a number of specific measures aimed at providing freedom–fairness and transparency in the upcoming presidential election.

A statement released by the mission Wednesday called on the authorities to provide equal access for all candidates to the state-run media–to rule out unauthorized inference of government officials in the voting process and to ensure transparency of the vote count and tabulation.

The statement presented by the head of the OSCE mission–ambassador-at-large Sam Brown–said government officials should guarantee transparency of the military’s participation in the March 16 election.

The statement also deplored Tuesday’s failure by the Armenian parliament to amend the country’s legislation to allow local election monitors.

The mission also called on Armenia’s Central Election Commission to "clarify all conditions regulating the voting outside Armenia." Apparently responding to OSCE concerns–the CEC on Tuesday renounced its intentions to simplify voting procedures for Armenian citizens living abroad. The Armenian foreign ministry had earlier decided to allow citizens to vote in special election precincts abroad without prior registration. But the OSCE and the Armenian opposition have argued that the move increases the possibility of electoral fraud.

Brown also expressed hope that all OSCE recommendations will be addressed before election day. He said fifteen OSCE observers are already assessing the election campaign in various parts of Armenia. He reported that more than one hundred additional observers are expected to arrive in the coming days.

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