Although the election was announced 28 days ago, the City Election Commission (CEC) still hasn’t allowed domestic observes to attend its meetings and, thus, monitor its work. Even though, on January 17th, the CEC established that Crta had fulfilled all the conditions for monitoring elections, it still hasn’t given Crta authorization, without which we aren’t allowed to attend its meetings.
The practice used for previous parliamentary and presidential elections which were implemented by the National Election Commissions was to issue authorizations two days after the fulfilment of conditions was established. After several days of waiting for the authorization and the CEC’s continued silence, it became evident that that this practice is not being followed this time. After several official memos and calls, on January 23rd the CEC informed us in an informal telephone conversation that they don’t have the forms for issuing authorizations to observers and that these forms will be adopted on the first upcoming CEC meeting. After this, authorization will be issued to Crta.
On the next CEC meeting, held on January 26th, the forms were adopted and Crta’s representative was guaranteed by CEC president Zoran Lukic himself that the authorizations will be urgently sent.
Since that day, January 26th, the CEC has remained silent. Together with other associations who intend to monitor individual segments of the election process, on February 8th we decided to appeal to the CEC to allow us to monitor the elections.
One day after our public appeal to the CEC to honour the Instructions for implementation of elections for members of the Belgrade City Parliament, a telephone call came from the CEC. They explained that, in addition to the information we submitted in January, in accordance with the Instructions, we are required to submit ID numbers, addresses and photographs of registered observers. This we submitted, but the authorization is still to come.
Meanwhile, CEC president Zoran Lukic publicly gave two different explanations of why domestic observers haven’t been authorized yet. As we were told informally, on a CEC meeting held on February 6th Lukic informed CEC members that none of the domestic observers will be issued authorizations before the application submission deadline (February 26th, i.e. 5 days before the election) so that all observers would be guaranteed equal conditions. The second time, Lukic spoke about this in Vecernje novosti on February 9th, and said that domestic observers haven’t fulfilled the conditions (let me remind you, on the meeting held on January 17th, the CEC established that Crta has fulfilled all conditions to monitor the Belgrade elections) and that they were asked to submit additional information.
Today’s date is February 13th and Crta is still not able to monitor the work of the election commission, which is an integral part of international methodology for civil, all-encompassing monitoring of the election process. Given that, in the time since the elections were announced until today, the CEC has held 17 meetings without independent observers, it is with great concern that we say that the CEC has missed its chance to make its work transparent, allow full public insight into its work and, thus, contribute to increased availability of information to citizens, as well as increased confidence in the work of electoral bodies.
Regardless of these pressures and obstacles, Crta is preparing to observe election day. If you want to make sure that the elections are implemented in accordance with the law, apply at budideo.crta.rs.
Translated by Marijana Simic