Row between two bodies over monitoring

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 00:00

INFIGHTING:Bitter infighting in the OSCE was unveiled yesterday when the head of the parliamentary assembly said he would not co-operate with another OSCE body on election monitoring.

Both the parliament and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) separately monitor elections around the world with an agreement in place on how to co-operate. But the president of the parliamentary assembly Riccardo Migliori told the meeting, “this agreement is no longer valid and is no longer operative”. The office involved “technocrats” who were refusing to share information on elections gathered ahead of polls, he said later at a press conference.

Spencer Oliver, secretary general of the parliamentary assembly, criticised the office’s negative view of recent US elections when it said its observers were stopped from entering polling stations. Some US states did not admit unauthorised personnel, Mr Oliver, who is a US national, said.

Parliamentarians were better placed to observe elections, he added. “ODIHR’s judgment is bad simply because they don’t have electoral experience.”

But the director of ODIHR said technical expertise was needed when observing elections. The offices sent experts out sometimes months before elections to make assessments on all aspects of the campaign and then to observe the voting and counting.

The methodology used by the office in observing elections was “universally acknowledged”, Janez Lenarcic, director of the office, said. “Running in an election is one thing. Running an election is another thing,” he said.

He said there were just two occasions when co-operation failed between the two bodies – the 2008 and recent US elections. “These accusations do not have any real basis,” said Mr Lenarcic.