A representative of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) arrived in Belarus as part of the needs assessment mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, BelTA learned from Secretary of the Central Election Commission (CEC) of Belarus Nikolai Lozovik.
Speaking about the meeting of the CEC’s top officials with the ODIHR mission on 15 July, Nikolai Lozovik said: “It was an expanded participation session. Two organizations were represented. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly was represented by Director of Elections Andreas Baker. The OSCE ODIHR was represented by senior advisor for elections, acting deputy director of the ODIHR Elections Department Tatiana Bogusevich and advisor of the Elections Department Vladimir Misev.”
“They were grateful that the Republic of Belarus had invited a mission to monitor the election. They will surely seize the opportunity,” said Nikolai Lozovik while talking about what had been said during the conversation with representatives of the ODIHR mission.
The official explained that Belarus’ CEC had made the mission familiar with preparations for the election. “It was noted that the work proceeds in accordance with the calendar plan. Now documents are being submitted for the sake of registering initiative groups of potential candidates and territorial commissions are being formed,” said Nikolai Lozovik. He remarked that the CEC encourages subordinate commissions to enable a free, democratic campaign without excessive restrictions and prohibitions. “During the seminars and forthcoming training sessions for members of election commissions we will draw attention to the need to secure respectful and law-abiding relations between all the parties involved in the election process: political parties, candidates, authorized representatives, members of the commissions, and observers,” said Nikolai Lozovik.
The ODIHR mission was interested in the system of election commissions, in particular, the composition of the Central Election Commission, the procedure used to set it up, the number of territorial and precinct election commissions and so on. They paid close attention to recent amendments to election laws. “In particular, they were interested in the formation of funds of candidates, the procedure used to replenish the funds and how spending is overseen,” explained the CEC Secretary. Participants of the mission also asked a number of other questions. In particular, they were interested in whether the norm that requires that representatives of political parties and public associations have to comprise one third of the members of an election commission was observed. “The norm was observed everywhere in Belarus, even in the remotest populated localities in the countryside. If there were no political parties over there, then youth organizations, trade unions, and war veteran organizations were present there,” noted Nikolai Lozovik.
Apart from that, the sides discussed the prohibition of campaigning in favor of boycotting the election. Nikolai Lozovik reminded representatives of the mission that Belarus had acceded to the CIS convention on standards of democratic elections, voting rights and freedoms. “The convention prohibits boycotting an election. The prohibition applies not only to speeches made by candidates but to all citizens of the country. If the state spends a lot of money organizing and preparing an election, then citizens are forbidden to campaign for the sake of disrupting this most important event,” said Nikolai Lozovik.
BelTA reported earlier that an OSCE ODIHR needs assessment mission will stay in Belarus on 15-17 July. Plans have been made to arrange meetings with representatives of government agencies and the civil society, the main political parties, mass media, non-governmental organizations, and probable presidential candidates.