( OSCE ) - The Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Ambassador Louis O'Neill, said today the closure of a polling station during the Moldovan local elections by Transdniestrian law enforcement bodies was
Early on 17 June, some 30 Transdniestrian militiamen forced their way into polling station 15/3 in Corjova (Dubasari) and closed it down.
"Closing down a polling station by force is unacceptable," said Ambassador O'Neill.
"The OSCE Mission made intensive efforts over the last days to mediate a solution which would have prevented this escalation. We deeply regret that it was not possible to find such a solution and that Corjova voters were again deprived of their right to elect a mayor and a local council."
Ambassador O'Neill added: " Mission members counted approximately 70 Transdniestrian militiamen and about 40 Moldovan police in and around the polling station on Sunday. The Moldova authorities showed restraint by not bringing in additional forces to attempt to repel the Transdniestrian seizure of the voting place. Such a move could have driven events beyond control. Overall it was clear that neither side wished to further escalate this very difficult situation."
Sunday's poll was the second attempt to hold local elections in Corjova this year. The 3 June elections there were declared invalid because of low turn-out. Only 99 out of 1,350 voters managed to vote after Transdniestrian militia blocked the entrance to the polling station shortly after the polls opened.
Jurisdiction over Corjova is disputed between the central authorities in Chisinau and regional authorities in Tiraspol. This is the first time, however, that a polling station was closed down by force.
During the 2005 parliamentary elections, Transdniestrian authorities blocked attempts to carry out mobile voting for home-bound voters and in 2003, the polling station for Corjova was opened in the neighbouring
Moldovan-controlled village of Cocieri.
The OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, which monitored this year's local elections in Moldova, and the OSCE Mission to Moldova operate in close co-operation, but under separate mandates.