Poland rejects OSCE observers for upcoming vote

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WARSAW, Sep 21 (Reuters) Poland said today it didn't want observers from Europe's main security watchdog to monitor its October. 21 parliamentary election because it was a democracy, and added the OSCE shouldn't have asked it to invite them.

Foreign ministry spokesman Robert Szaniawski said Poland was a solid democracy and added that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) made a ''faux pas'' by asking Warsaw to invite observers to ensure the vote was in line with democratic procedures.

''OSCE asked Poland to admit observers for the election but Poland rejected the proposal, underlining that Poland is a democracy,'' Szaniawski said.

''It's a standard procedure that it is the country that invites OSCE observers for elections, so in this case OSCE made a faux pas,'' he said.

Poland will hold a general poll on October 21. The parliament voted earlier in September to dissolve the chamber, triggering an election two years ahead of schedule.

OSCE election monitoring group spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said the 56-nation security and democracy group had asked to meet Polish officials in advance of an invitation to send monitors, but had been told this would not be possible.

''We expect to have a firmer answer early next week, but this situation is unusual,'' she said by telephone from Ukraine.

''Invitations are a duty of member states. A monitoring mission has nothing to do with what we think of the state of democratic practices in a country.'' She said the OSCE observed elections both in ex-Communist eastern Europe and western Europe. Monitors would be in Switzerland on Oct.

21, the same day as Poland's vote, and were present for elections France and Belgium recently, she said.

Former Czech president and regional democracy champion Vaclav Havel suggested earlier this month it would be a good idea to send observers from the OSCE or another international institution to ensure Poland's elections were fair.

Opponents accuse Poland's ruling Kaczynski twins of using the state apparatus to spy on and discredit their rivals, saying the brothers could try to manipulate the vote.

The Kaczynskis came to power in 2005 promising to free post-communist Poland from a network of businessmen, politicians and other professionals they say controls the country.

Opponents say the identical twins have used anti-corruption actions against political enemies. The detention last month of a former interior minister drew accusations the Kaczynskis were trying to silence critics.

REUTERS AK PM0136

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