OSCE Special Co-ordinator visits Belarus ahead of presidential election observation

2015 EOM Belarus HarstedtKent Harstedt (left), the Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE’s short-term observers for Belarusian presidential election, meets with Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, Minsk, 22 September 2015.COPENHAGEN, 24 September 2015 – The Special Co-ordinator of the OSCE’s short-term observers for the presidential election in Belarus, Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden), met with high-level officials and a range of other interlocutors in Minsk and Homel this week to discuss the preparations and environment for the upcoming vote.

“I thank the Belarusian authorities for their timely invitation and their close co-operation with OSCE observers. This election represents a pivotal moment for Belarus and I have encouraged the government to seize this opportunity and demonstrate its ambition of holding free and fair elections,” Special Co-ordinator Harstedt said at the conclusion of his visit.

On 21 and 22 September in Minsk, Harstedt met with Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei; Central Election Commission Chairperson Lidia Yermoshina; members of the Belarusian Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, led by Viktor Guminsky; and analysts from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) long-term observer mission.

He also met with a number of prominent opposition figures, including Syarhey Kalyakin and Anatol Lyabedzka, who had launched initiative groups for the presidential election.

On 23 September in Homel, he met with Mayor Petr Kirichenko; members of the Regional Election Commission; civil society representatives; and long-term observers from ODIHR.

“Some of our interlocutors felt alienated from the electoral process. In particular, the near-absence of opposition representatives in territorial election commissions raises the risk of a partial administration of this election. All citizens should have an equal opportunity to participate in all stages of the election. In the run-up to 11 October, I hope the Belarusian authorities will take concrete steps to promote greater inclusiveness and transparency,” Special Co-ordinator Harstedt said.

Harstedt will lead the work of approximately 450 OSCE short-term observers of the election, including nearly 50 fellow OSCE parliamentarians from 22 countries. They will deploy across Belarus for election-day observation.

The mission will assess the election against democratic commitments contained in the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document.

Harstedt serves as a Vice-President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and as Head of the Swedish Delegation to the Assembly. He also served as OSCE Special Co-ordinator for observation of the 2014 parliamentary elections in Ukraine.

For more information about the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's election monitoring work, click here.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

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