An umbrella group campaigning on election-related issues has welcomed the authorities’ declared goal to have as many international observers monitoring Georgia’s electoral campaign as possible and called on the government to put words into practice by sending formal invitation to relevant international organizations.
In recent days President Saakashvili reiterated twice the need of having long-term international observers to monitor not only the election day, but the entire electoral campaign in lead up to the parliamentary polls scheduled for October.
In the recent remarks on the matter made during a joint press conference with the NATO Secretary General in Brussels on April 3, Saakashvili said: “We have elections this year and we call strongly on international community, on European Union, the European Parliament, the OSCE, our partner country, including members of the Alliance to send not only short-term, but long-term observers, to do polling of public opinion for all this period, to monitor Georgian media coverage, to monitor party financing mechanism in order to ensure that not just the day of elections but the whole process is transparent.”
“We welcome this initiative [by President Saakashvili] and express hope, that in the nearest future the Georgian government will send a formal request to international organizations… to start assessing pre-election environment in Georgia,” the campaign group, uniting election watchdogs, legal advocacy organizations and some media outlets, said in its statement on April 3.
The same group, campaigning under the name, This Affects You Too, first called on the authorities to invite OSCE’s democracy and rights arm ODIHR to monitor pre-election situation in the country “in the shortest period of time” in early March.
OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deploys its observation mission upon the invitation from the government of host country.
Usually long-term observation missions are deployed six to eight weeks before election day.
During the most recent parliamentary elections in Georgia in 2008, ODIHR’s long-term observation mission was deployed five weeks before the voting day and in 2003 the mission launched operation two months before the parliamentary elections in November, citing “a strong interest of the international community” towards those elections, results of which were then declared partially annulled.