POLITICS

OSCE: Citizens to use Opportunity to strengthen Democracy by exercising right to vote

On 20 December the citizens of Mostar will, finally have the opportunity, after waiting 12 long years, to vote in local elections for the City of Mostar.   

“I encourage all eligible voters to use this opportunity to strengthen democracy by exercising your right to vote for the candidates you believe will best serve the interests of your community.  In this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge all voters to protect both themselves and polling station workers by wearing masks and respecting all epidemiological measures while voting,” Kathleen Kavalec, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, stated today.

On 18 November 2020, numerous political parties, coalitions, and independent candidates participating in these local elections signed a pledge to respect the principles of free and fair elections. Those who signed the pledge agreed to ensure a peaceful and fair electoral process and to uphold key democratic principles, including to respect the legality of elections, to avoid exerting political pressure on voters, and to refrain from using inflammatory or divisive rhetoric.  We call on all political parties and candidates to respect these principles, to show respect for their competitors and for voters before, during, and after election day, and to accept officially-confirmed electoral results. We call for peaceful celebrations following the announcement of the results.  

Local election administration officials must ensure that vote counting and tabulation are carried out in a fair and transparent manner. Doing so will help protect the integrity of the election process and help build public trust in democracy more generally. It is crucial that officials refrain from any activity that might jeopardize the integrity and transparency of elections, which could lead to possible prosecution or sanctions.

On behalf of the OSCE Mission to BiH, let me express appreciation to the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections ‘Pod Lupom’ that will deploy independent observers to all polling stations in Mostar. The presence of independent, trained election observers is one of the best safeguards of election integrity.  Citizens can also play an important role in defending the integrity of the voting by reporting any indications of possible electoral irregularities or fraud they may witness to the Central Electoral Commission, independent observers, the police and/or prosecutors.  

Thank you also to all the members of the Central and Mostar Municipal Election Commissions, polling station workers, observers, police and other officials who are working so hard to make it possible for these elections to proceed as safely as possible.

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