Umbrella campaign group, This Affects You Too, called on the Georgian authorities to invite OSCE’s democracy and rights arm ODIHR to monitor pre-election situation in the country in lead up to October parliamentary elections “in the shortest period of time”.
Election watchdog and legal advocacy groups, joined by some media outlets, submitted an appeal to the President’s administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Parliament on March 9 requesting to invite ODIHR’s long-term observation mission, which “will provide unbiased monitoring of electoral environment not only in two-month long pre-election period, but throughout the electoral year.” The appeal is signed by 82 non-governmental and media organizations.
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.
The campaign group said it had also appealed OSCE and ODIHR with a request to send the long-term observation mission, “which will contribute to holding of free and fair elections in the country.”
President Saakashvili said in his annual state of the nation address in the Parliament on February 28, that parliamentary elections this year would be “a very important test” for Georgia.
“I believe that this is a very important test for us and it is the matter of principle to make these elections the freest, the most transparent and the most democratic ever held in Georgia,” he said.
“For this purpose, we invite all the international observers to monitor pre-election [period] and election day, because it is in our interest, it is the matter of national security,” Saakashvili said.