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NEWS AND EVENTS
December 27, 2004
ELECTORAL PROCESS IN UZBEKISTAN REQUIRES MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS - OSCE
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) conducted a Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) in Uzbekistan for the parliamentary elections on 26 December. Although minor improvements since the 1999 elections were identified, the Mission concludes that the elections did fall significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.

\"Regrettably, the implementation of the election legislation by the authorities failed to ensure a pluralistic, competitive and transparent election,\" said Ambassador Lubomir Kopaj, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission.

He identified some improvements since the 1999 legislative elections, such as a 30% quota for female party candidates and new financial regulations to support the political parties. Also, positive voting for candidates on the ballot paper was introduced, although at a very late stage.

\"However, major improvements to the process are required, and a commensurate level of political will for implementation. Fundamental principles for a meaningful democratic election process, such as freedom of expression, association and assembly must be respected in future elections,\" added Ambassador Kopaj.

Although candidates from five registered political parties and 55 candidates from initiative groups participated in the elections, the similarity of the political platforms of the registered political parties appeared to deprive voters of a genuine choice.

Three aspirant political parties were refused registration in the past twelve months by the authorities, and almost two-thirds of nominated candidates from initiative groups were not able to participate in the elections.

The OSCE/ODIHR requested from the Ministry of Justice all registration related documentation, but the Ministry declined to supply it to the Mission. The OSCE/ODIHR is therefore not able to contradict allegations from those non-registered subjects that the authorities treated them unfairly.

The Mission, established on 1 December, comprised 21 international election experts from 14 OSCE participating States. The decision to deploy a limited EOM was based on the report of the OSCE/ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission which identified, in particular, a need for major improvement in the legal framework and marginalized opportunities for genuine political competition. Due to these shortcomings, systematic short-term observation at polling station level was deemed to be irrelevant in this context.

The OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission, based in Tashkent, focused on the legal framework for elections, election administration, the campaign, and the role of the media. It met national and regional representatives and candidates of political parties as well as initiative groups, government officials, electoral authorities, representatives of the media, non-governmental organizations and representatives of the international community. Long-term observer teams were deployed to Nukos, Bukara, Karshi, Samarkand and Fergana.

On Election Day, the mission members visited a limited number of polling stations in Tashkent and the other areas where long term observers were deployed.

The OSCE/ODIHR will elaborate its findings in a Final Report, including recommendations, to be published approximately one month after the completion of the election process.


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