The presidential elections will be "guarded" by 140 observers

Elections / Photo: "Free Press" - Dragan Mitreski

A total of 140 domestic and foreign observers have registered to observe the presidential elections, the first round of which will be held next Wednesday, April 24, and the registration for observing the parliamentary elections that will be held on May 8 is still ongoing and according to the schedule of The State Election Commission will last until April 27. This number of observers is significantly lower than the previous presidential elections in 2019, when 3.094 domestic and 419 foreign observers were registered. A request to acquire observer status can be submitted by domestic associations and foreign organizations, international organizations and representatives of foreign countries.

The SEC says that as of April 11, a total of 140 observers have been accredited for the presidential elections, of which 110 are international, one foreign journalist and 29 domestic observers. A total of 139 observers have been accredited for the parliamentary elections, of which 109 are international, one foreign journalist and 29 domestic observers.

- We note that currently submitted requests for accreditation are still being processed, which will be subject to confirmation at the next sessions of the State Election Commission. In connection with the comparison of the number of observers with the last presidential elections, we inform you that the process of confirming the accreditations for the presidential elections has not yet been completed, given that the requests were submitted in recent days - said the SEC.

According to the schedule of the SEC for the presidential elections, the registration of observers for the presidential elections lasted from February 14 to April 13.

According to the announcements of the election commission so far, following the submitted requests for accreditation of observers for the presidential and parliamentary elections, observation authorizations were issued to the embassies of Hungary, the Netherlands, Albania, Montenegro, and then to the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights at the OSCE/ ODIHR, the Central Election Commission of Kosovo, the Center for Continuous Training in Elections from Moldova, the Center for Security Research, etc.

- Badges will be issued for each accredited observer who will have to comply with the Code for the rules of election observation and the election procedure of domestic and foreign observers, adopted by the State Election Commission - the SEC announced.

The OSCE/ODIHR mission recently announced that it will observe the upcoming elections with 20 long-term and 300 short-term observers. The head of the observation mission, Gillian Stirk, said at the time that ODIHR works in accordance with established election observation methodology, is completely impartial and bases its assessments on facts.

- Within the framework of the mission, an assessment will be made as to whether the elections are in accordance with the commitments to the OSCE and other international obligations, as well as with the national legislation. We have a core team of 12 international experts. It is a very diverse group. We will be in the country for both the presidential and parliamentary elections and we will leave on May 19 - said Ambassador Stirk.

According to her, the number of observers is large, because on the same day, on May 8, two election processes will be held.

In addition to the main OSCE/ODIHR team, the group of 20 long-term observers will be deployed in teams of two in nine cities - Tetovo, Ohrid, Bitola, Prilep, Strumica, Kočani, Kumanovo and Shtip, and there will be two teams in the capital Skopje. Immediately before the elections, 300 short-term observers will arrive in Macedonia, who will visit the polling stations and observe the voters, the process of counting the votes and summarizing the results. The OSCE/ODIHR observation mission will also monitor the media regarding the election process.

Last month, the SEC and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems IFES held a training for civil society organizations to observe the upcoming elections, where they learned about the rights and responsibilities they have according to the Electoral Law, i.e. the rules for observation and the professional and technical possibilities of the electoral process .

- By applying an interactive methodology, the persons who visited the workshop simulated an observation process and practically faced situations that occur on election day. In that way, potential election observers gained knowledge in the field, improved their knowledge and skills, and received answers to all questions. A part of the session was dedicated to which part of the election process is observed by the accredited observers, how to record the possible remarks that the observers made at the polling stations and how to report them after the elections - the SEC informed at the time.

The State Electoral Commission also adopted the Guidelines for the observation of the elections and the electoral procedure, as well as the Code for the observation of the elections, which are intended to improve the integrity and transparency of the electoral process.

The parliamentary elections in the pandemic year 2020 were monitored by a total of 2.717 domestic and foreign observers, translators and journalists. 2.508 domestic and 98 international observers were accredited in the SEC, and the others were from the EU Delegation and foreign embassies. 55 foreign journalists from 15 newsrooms were registered to monitor those parliamentary elections.

The previous parliamentary elections, in 2016, had a record number of observers due to the long-term political crisis – 7.585 domestic observers, 667 foreign observers and 75 foreign journalists.

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