OSCE/ODIHR publishes interim report on parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan

OSCE/ODIHR publishes interim report on parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Dec. 14

By Fakhri Vakilov - Trend:

Organization for Security and Co-operation’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights operation (OSCE / ODIHR), on December 13, published an interim report of the parliamentary election observation mission in Uzbekistan, covering the period from November 25 to December 10, Trend reports citing to the OSCE/ODIHR report.

The interim report of the OSCE/ODIHR mission is significantly different from previous reports in its entire history of election observation in Uzbekistan since 1999. In it, in particular, significant progress is recognized in the field of improving the election legislation and practice, the efforts of the government of the country to modernize the system of public and public administration are noted.

The report emphasizes that the upcoming elections are the first since the election of Shavkat Mirziyoyev as president of the country in 2016 and that they are held under the slogan “New Uzbekistan - new elections”, as an important milestone in the implementation of the Development Strategy.

Such key areas of reforming the country as strengthening the role of parliament and political parties in democratic transformations, reforming the public administration system, measures to ensure the rule of law, independence of the courts, protection of human rights and freedoms are given.

The OSCE/ODIHR Mission in its report emphasizes that the upcoming elections will be held within the framework of a significantly updated legal framework. The innovations in the electoral law that meet the previously presented recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR, in particular:

- Introduction for the first time of the Unified Electronic Voter List, excluding multiple voting;

- Abolition of the institute of quotas for deputy seats in the Legislative Chamber for the Ecological Movement;

- Providing voters with the right to subscribe in support of the participation of more than one political party in the elections;

- establishing the maximum deviation in the number of voters in constituencies at 10 percent;

- Granting the right to vote in elections to persons serving sentences for less serious crimes that do not constitute a public danger.

According to OSCE/ODIHR, the work of the Central Election Commission (CEC) presented in a positive way. It is noted that the number of CEC members has increased from 16 to 21, and the number of women has been increased from 3 to 7. The OSCE / ODIHR Mission stated that the CEC respects the order and timing of the elections. Attention is drawn to the fact that the CEC website contains a wide range of regularly updated information.

The CEC has announced that the details of some 20.5 million citizens have been included in the newly compiled and centralised register of voters, the Single Electronic Voter List (SEVL). All polling stations will have access to the SEVL through the Electoral Process Management Information System that was introduced on 22 November.

Following a verification of a 15 percent sample of the submitted supporting signatures, on 15 October, the CEC certified all five political parties as eligible to nominate candidates. On 15 November, the CEC registered all 750 nominated candidates, 5 in each of the 150 constituencies. Since then 3 candidates have withdrawn, bringing the total of candidates to 747. Of these, 43 are sitting MPs, 6 of whom are women.

In meetings with the ODIHR Election Observation Mission, the representative from political parties expressed their satisfaction with the existing legal provisions on fielding candidates. The Election Code requires that women should constitute at least 30 percent of the total number of candidates nominated by a political party, and all parties complied with this requirement. Overall, 41 percent of the candidates (310) are women.

For the first time since 1999, the ODIHR report has not sharply criticized the nature of election campaigning, which in previous years was regarded as “faded” and “barely noticeable”, which does not represent a genuine choice for voters.

The ODIHR recognizes that the international press center is organizing debates for the first time between representatives of five political parties, which are broadcast live. It is noted that the most visible form of election campaigning is the use of social networks, in particular Facebook and Telegram. It emphasizes "the activity of independent bloggers, who are considered as the most important source of independent comments."

In addition, the OSCE/ODIHR report contains information on granting citizens the right to vote for the first time, strengthening the role of parliament by empowering the lower house to approve ministerial candidacies, creating favorable conditions for NGOs, and increasing the proportion of women among deputy candidates to 41 percent and representatives other nationalities up to 8.4 percent.

Moreover, the interim report of the OSCE/ODIHR mission contains recommendations on the importance of continuing to ensure the fundamental rights and freedoms of assembly, association and expression.

OSCE/ODIHR mission arrived in Uzbekistan at the invitation of the CEC. The upcoming parliamentary elections are the eighth participation of the OSCE/ODIHR mission.

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Follow author on Twitter:@vakilovfaxri

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