OSCE will not observe Lithuanian elections

  • 2000-08-31
VILNIUS (BNS) - An OSCE delegation has not recommended sending observers to the Lithuanian general election to be held on Oct. 8, after receiving first-hand information about Lithuania's economic and political situation.

The report received by the chairman of the Lithu-anian Central Electoral Commission, Zenonas Vaig-aus-kas, concludes that "an Election Observation Mission to Lithuania is not justified as public confidence in the elections and institutions as well as conditions for democratic elections are well-established."

The report says that the conclusion was reinforced by the fact that EU has ceased observing Lithuanian elections since 1997. According to EU, the legal framework does not raise any concern; conditions for the conduct of elections in accordance with international standards will be provided.

"Lithuania's political landscape is characterized by the downfall of the established parties, the rise of a bloc of centrist parties, and the ascent of far-right parties and movements due in part to voters' disenchantment with the economic effects following the 1999 Russian economic crisis," OSCE specialists said, describing the current situation in the country.

A group of experts of the Warsaw-based OSCE Democratic institutions and human rights bureau preliminary mission headed by Paul O'Grady of Britain visited Lithuania from Aug. 9 to 11 to decide whether OSCE representatives would be sent to observe the Lithu-anian parliamentary election next October.

OSCE observed the 1996 parliamentary elections in Lithuania. The 1997 and 2000 local government elections and the 1998 presidential elections were not observed.

Vaigauskas said that OSCE's interest in Lithu-anian elections was caused by the latest local government elections where forces widely regarded as populist and extremist had gained good results.

OSCE representatives maintained that interest in Lithuanian elections was not exceptional in any way because the organization sends election observation missions to all OSCE member states.