President Saakashvili has instructed the Foreign Ministry to send an official invitation to relevant international organizations to deploy long-term election observation mission to monitor the entire electoral campaign in Georgia in lead up to the October parliamentary elections, Manana Manjgaladze, the Georgian President’s spokesperson, said on April 6.
She said it was Georgia’s goal to hold “maximally” transparent, free and democratic parliamentary elections.
“We are sure that the parliamentary elections in Georgia will fully meet internationally recognized standards,” Manjgaladze added.
Also on April 6, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that upon the President’s instructions it had sent a formal invitation to OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR); OSCE Parliamentary Assembly; Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE); the European Parliament and EU institutions.
The Foreign Ministry said that in its formal invitation Georgia expresses readiness to host “unlimited number of observers as soon as conveniently possible” to monitor situation both in pre-election period and on the election day.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that it has also requested the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton for EU funding to carry out a media monitoring similar to the one which was implemented in Georgia ahead of the local elections in 2010.
“The Georgian Foreign Ministry would also like to stress the fact that the official invitation of international electoral observers nearly seven months before the elections… is an unprecedented event in international electoral practice,” it said.
In recent week President Saakashvili reiterated twice the need of having as many long-term international observers to monitor pre-election period as possible.
An umbrella group campaigning on election-related issues has welcomed President Saakashvili’s statements and called on the authorities on April 3 to put words into practice by sending formal invitation to relevant international organizations.
OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) deploys its observation mission upon the invitation from the government of host country. The next step is to send to a host country a group of experts, known as needs assessment mission, to determine the scale of a potential observation activity.
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.