MINSK, 23 January 2009 - The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will work with the authorities of Belarus on the reform of the country's electoral framework. This was agreed during a two-day visit of ODIHR's Director, Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, to Minsk which ended today.
"We are ready to start working immediately with the authorities on concrete steps to improve the environment for holding elections in line with Belarus' OSCE commitments, both at the legislative and practical level," said Lenarcic.
Lenarcic met Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov, the head of the Presidential Administration, Vladimir Makey, the head of the Central Election Commission, Lidya Ermoshina, the Director of the National Centre for Legislation and Legal Research, Valery Mitskevich, and other officials and representatives of political parties and civil society. He said that the meetings took place in a "constructive and open atmosphere".
It was agreed to begin first step consultations at the expert level in February, and that ODIHR would update its review of Belarus' electoral legislation.
Lenarcic suggested starting consultations focusing on seven areas: campaign environment, composition of election commissions, candidate registration, media coverage, early voting, complaints and appeals process, and transparency of the vote count.
He highlighted the importance of involving all stakeholders, including opposition parties and civil society, in the process of reforming the election framework.
"Clearly, some of the measures will take time to develop. But others could be put into practice quickly, such as easing restrictions in the areas of freedom of association and assembly," said Lenarcic.
ODIHR observed a number of elections in Belarus, including the 2008 parliamentary elections. The final report on the parliamentary elections is available on the OSCE website at Final report on the 28 September 2008 parliamentary elections in Belarus