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Controversy over OSCE Chief Observer’s Remarks
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 10 Jan.'08 / 18:23

Remarks made by Dieter Boden, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR long term observation mission, have caused a controversy, throwing into doubt the group’s initial positive assessment of the Georgian presidential election.

The German daily Frankfurter Rundschau quoted Boden as saying: “There was crass, negligent and deliberate falsification during the vote counting.”

Rasto Kuzel, an OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission’s media analyst, however, told journalist on January 10: “Mr. Boden’s opinion was not fully reflected in this article. We stay firmly behind our statement on preliminary findings and conclusions that we issued on January 6… We will issue a post-election interim report next week.”

Speaking with journalists in Tbilisi on January 8, Boden said. “We know that the process of counting and tabulation of results was faulty. We’ve heard a lot of arguments and we saw some documents that [point in] that direction. All of us, we are under the obligation to look into these matters very seriously. But I would also stress once again that what we’ve heard and seen up to now, I think, will not make us revise the words that we have spoken out in the report that we have submitted on Sunday. We do not have the impression that there was a mass falsification of this election.”

The mission’s preliminary report issued on January 6 dealt with the pre-election period and Election Day itself. The next report is expected to focus on vote tabulation – the process which, according to the opposition, has been marred by widespread violations. All opposition presidential candidates claim that election results are being manipulated, particularly through the falsification of original vote summary protocols.

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