OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) announced on August 22 about the launch of election observation mission for Georgia’s October 1 parliamentary polls.
Right now the mission includes core team of 15 experts, which will stay in Georgia until the middle of October. The mission will be joined with 28 long-term observers from early next week.
The mission is headed by Nikolai Vulchanov of Bulgaria, who has over fifteen years of experience in election observation and who led OSCE/ODIHR observation missions for Georgia’s 1999 parliamentary and 2000 presidential elections.
ODIHR has requested from the OSCE participating countries to send 350 short-term observers to monitor election day proceedings and the vote counting process.
“If this request is met by the participating states on the election day there will be probably around 400 [observers] from ODIHR alone,” Vulchanov said on August 22 in Tbilisi, adding that in election day observation ODIHR mission will join efforts with delegations from parliamentary assemblies of OSCE, NATO, Council of Europe and European Parliament.
ODIHR’s long-term observation mission will prepare two interim reports on pre-election situation – the first one planned to be released in late part of first half of September and the second one a week before the October 1 elections.
“Interim reports are drafted in a way to compile findings, but not to provide assessment of the findings. We are not providing assessments in interim reports, because we do not want to interfere in the process in any way,” Vulchanov said. “However, findings, which will be reported in the interim reports, provide quite a good indication of how the process is unfolding; so careful reading of the interim reports merits.”
The mission will release preliminary findings and conclusions day after the elections and final report will be available about two months after the final election results are summarized.
“We are not here to determine whether the election is legitimate or not,” Vulchanov said. “We are here to establish based on body of facts, collected by our observers, whether the election complied with the legislation and the international commitments of Georgia, but that’s where we stop.”
He also said that it was not the policy of ODIHR to give assessments like “free and fair” to elections, because this wording “is not enough to describe an election properly.”