PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 2016
October 24, 2016
OSCE ODIHR NEEDS ASSESSMENT MISSION RELEASES REPORT
As previously reported, Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) visited Uzbekistan on 11-14 October this year at the invitation of the Central Election Commission of our country.
The delegation of the OSCE ODIHR composed of the Head of Elections Department at the OSCE ODIHR Alexander Shlyk and Adviser of the Department Ulvi Akhundlu got familiar with electoral environment ahead of the presidential elections. They held meetings in the Central Election Commission, houses of the Oliy Majlis, at the Supreme Court, the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Justice, the National Center for Human Rights, the National Broadcasting Company, the Uzbek Agency for Press and Information, as well as with the Commissioner of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights, representatives of political parties and civil society institutions.
During the meetings, the ODIHR experts were provided with information on extensive efforts undertaken in Uzbekistan in the democratization of government and management, advancement of the electoral legislation and practice of preparations and conduct of elections, along with the elevation of the electoral activeness of the population.
On October 21, a report was posted on the OSCE ODIHR official website on the visit of NAM experts to Uzbekistan, containing the decision on the expediency of election observation, its format, duration and the required number of observers.
In particular, taking into account the readiness of the Republic of Uzbekistan to conduct the forthcoming elections in a transparent manner in accordance with universally accepted international standards in this field, the Needs Assessment Mission suggested that the OSCE ODIHR send a mission to observe the presidential ballot.
It is proposed that the mission include, along with the main group and long-term observers in the quantity of 28 people, also a faction of short-term observers numbering 250 people to monitor the electoral process in polling stations on the Election Day.
Worth noting is that in the past, the OSCE ODIHR used to send limited missions to observe the parliamentary and presidential elections in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The report notes that the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan – in full compliance with the requirements of the Constitution of the nation and the Law on Elections of the President of Uzbekistan – with regard to the three-month period to conduct electoral events announced the start of the election campaign on September 9 this year and set the date of December 4, 2016, as the voting day.
In addition, the NAM experts stress that all stages of the election campaign are undertaken within the time frames envisaged by the law and the procedures outlined in the CEC-approved Program of Major Activities on the preparation and holding of elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Experts welcomed the December 2015 introduction of amendments and addenda to the laws on the Central Election Commission, on Elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other legislative acts following the presidential elections that took place in March 2015. In particular, a special highlight received such changes to the Law on Elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan as:
- reduction of the required number of supporter signatures for nomination of presidential candidates (from 5% to 1%);
- establishment of the rules about the notion of electoral campaigning, the types, forms and methods of its conduct;
- creation of polling stations in places of pre-trial detention, regularization of voting procedures;
- possibility of inclusion in the voters’ list at the place of temporary residence;
- definition of time frames, order and procedures for early voting, establishment of the ‘day of silence’ starting from one day before the voting date.
It is stated that these novelties have been introduced in view of previous recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR and meet universally accepted electoral standards.
The report highlights that the CEC has updated normative acts that clarify the procedure for drawing up electoral lists, regulate nomination procedures and verification of signatures collected in their support, the organization of electoral campaigning and funding the campaign, consideration of complaints and appeals, including the clearance of administrative offenses, as well as the rights and duties of observers.
The NAM experts also highlighted the openness and transparency of the activities of election commissions, extensive participation of the media, political parties and international observers in their meetings, willingness pf the CEC to promptly publish all materials related to the election campaign in the press and on its official website. In addition, the report indicates that about 40 percent of the membership in district election commissions are women.
ODIHR mission also included in its report the data on the work undertaken by the Central Election Commission to extensively inform the wider public about the forthcoming elections, to organize cascade training sessions across the country aimed to provide high-quality training to members of precinct election commissions on various aspects of the electoral campaign, as well as on the implementation of a program designed to further increase the legal culture and electoral activeness of voters, especially young people and vulnerable groups.
The report prepared by the experts of OSCE ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission also contains other information suggestive of large-scale efforts undertaken in the Republic of Uzbekistan in perfecting the national electoral legislation and practice of organizing and conducting democratic elections.
It is worth noting that willingness to participate in the observation of presidential elections in Uzbekistan has been expressed by such prominent institution as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the CIS Executive Committee, Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the World Association of Electoral Bodies, along with numerous representatives of parliaments, electoral bodies and experts from Europe, Americas, Asia-Pacific and the CIS.
(Source: Republican Press Center for Covering the Elections of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan)