Stano: Serbia to implement OSCE/ODIHR recommendations on elections

2024-02-29 18:10:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

Stano: Serbia to implement OSCE/ODIHR recommendations on elections

The European Union said Thursday that the OSCE/ODIHR report on the elections in Serbia "confirms the bloc's concerns" about irregularities in the Dec. 17 parliamentary and local elections in the Balkan country.

The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said in its final report that the elections were held under unfair conditions and were "damaged by harsh rhetoric, bias in the media, pressure on public sector workers and misuse of public resources".

The report also presented proposals for actions to be taken by the Serbian authorities before the next elections.

Serbia is a candidate country for membership in the European Union, but the government of President Aleksandar Vucic has faced accusations of violating democratic freedoms.

The spokesperson of the European Union, Peter Stano, said that the OSCE/ODIHR report confirms the bloc's concerns about the election process in Serbia.

"The electoral process in Serbia requires significant improvements and further reforms, because the proper functioning of Serbia's democratic institutions is at the core of its membership process in the European Union," said Mr. Stano.

He said that reports of irregularities should be transparently investigated, including those related to local elections, while he welcomed, as he said, the readiness of the authorities in Serbia to work on the implementation of the recommendations.

Claims by the Serbian opposition of massive fraud and denials by the authorities fueled tensions in Serbia and led to protests.

Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic accused opposition groups and independent media of creating a "false image" about the elections in order to destabilize the country. She said that the OSCE/ODIHR report puts an end to the lies about the theft of elections.

"When you read the recommendations, it is clear that the elections in Serbia were fair and transparent", said the Serbian Prime Minister.

The Election Commission announced the Serbian Progressive Party of President Vucic as the winner of the 250-seat parliament and municipal government elections in 60 cities, including Belgrade.

The opposition insists that it was robbed of its victory in Belgrade and that the entire election process was irregular.

"When someone tells you that the elections took place in unequal conditions, favoring one person, one party, in an environment of polarization and hate speech... those are unfair, unfree and undemocratic elections," said Marinika Tepi?, one of the leaders of the opposition coalition Serbia against violence.

The report of international observers states that the "decisive involvement" of the president of Serbia Vu?i?, "together with the systematic advantages of the ruling party, created unfair conditions for the contestants".

The opposition and local election observers said voters from abroad were added to voter lists in Belgrade and bussed there on election day to vote for the ruling party.

"These allegations undermined public confidence in the integrity of local elections and also affected the acceptance of parliamentary results." says the ODIHR report, in which the authorities are asked to carry out a "meaningful audit of voters and civil registers".

Among other recommendations, the report calls for "measures to prevent the misuse of state duties and resources" and "the implementation of effective legal and institutional oversight mechanisms to prevent intimidation and pressure on voters, including employees of public and state institutions."

Earlier this month, the European Parliament passed a resolution condemning reported irregularities in the December 17 elections in Serbia and calling for an international investigation into them.

Earlier, the Serbian president rejected the possibility of any external investigation, saying that the elections are "a matter of Serbian state institutions"./ VOA

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