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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

OSCE members in Cyprus for parliamentary elections

OSCE members in Cyprus for parliamentary elections

May 10, 2011

A nine-member delegation of OSCE observers is currently in Cyprus in view of the parliamentary elections to be held on May 22.

On election day, the observers will be based in the capital Nicosia and the southern coastal town of Limassol and will tour polling stations in other districts after receiving authorisation to do so.

On Tuesday, the delegation met at the Ministry of the Interior with Chief Returning Officer Lazaros Savvides who said ''they were very pleased with what they heard and the legislation on the parliamentary elections, as well as the manner in which the Ministry of the Interior manages polling matters abroad, issues concerning religious groups etc.''

He added that questions concerning legislation on the pre-election period, the right of prisoners to vote and how persons enclaved in the Turkish occupied areas and citizens from occupied districts vote, were also answered.

Savvides said the observers also wanted to know about the percentage of women candidates, which is 25% or 98 candidates, and the way in which equality issues are handled, adding that they were satisfied with the answers they received.

He noted that the observers would be meeting with non-governmental organisations and representatives of the National Mechanism for Women's Rights, in order to form a complete picture.

The Chief Returning Officer explained to the observers that when the ballot boxes are opened and the ballot papers are sorted out and counted, no one is allowed to enter the polling stations, adding that the observers were satisfied with the fact that it was a measure taken to prevent influencing anyone within the polling station at the given moment.

Savvides said that the House of Representatives had been informed about the mission and explained that the OSCE, in a report prepared in March, had expressed interest in observing the election process in Cyprus, and on April 19 had sent a letter to the Cypriot authorities informing them that they would be in Cyprus for the elections.

''No democratic country in Europe and the OSCE has ever dared tell the OSCE that it did not accept it for any reason,'' Savvides said, adding that ''the OSCE asked if it could sent observers to Cyprus and the reply of the state in all elections has always been positive.''

Savvides pointed out that the OSCE had reported in March that it was surprised that everyone trusted the institutions in Cyprus and there had not been a single complaint.

This is the first time OSCE observers are in Cyprus for elections. The mission will remain in Cyprus until May 27 and comprises observers from Slovenia, Latvia, Germany, Canada, Ireland, France and Kazakhstan.

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