The director of the organization has informed the Belarusian government about her decision.
The OSCE/ODIHR mission will not come to Belarus for the first time to observe the presidential elections. The reason is the absence of an official invitation from the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
“The lack of a timely invitation more than two months after the announcement of the election has prevented ODIHR from observing key aspects of the electoral process,” ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said. “These include areas we have noted in recent observation reports as requiring improvement in Belarus, such as the formation of election commissions and registration of candidates. It is clear from the outcomes of these processes that the authorities have not taken any steps to improve their inclusiveness.”
On its official webpage, the organization notes that “ODIHR has made every effort since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver on its mandate for election observation, and has carried out observation in several countries since travel restrictions were widely lifted. The lack of a timely invitation in such a challenging situation, the Director underlined, reflects a lack of commitment to co-operate with ODIHR election observers as envisaged by OSCE commitments”.
At the same time, Gísladóttir also reiterated her deep concern at reports that prospective candidates had been intimidated and opposition activists arrested.
“The protection of fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression is a precondition for genuine democratic elections,” she said.
The ODIHR Director also urged the authorities to take concrete and immediate steps to protect the exercise of fundamental freedoms in Belarus.
Earlier, a spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said that the agency would decide on the invitation of international observers in the near future, given the development of the epidemiological situation in the country.
Due to the pandemic, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly observers decided not to come to Belarus for the election.