By Chairman M. Abdusalomov of the Central Election Commission of Uzbekistan
The most important factor in the open and transparent democratic elections is the participation of observers from other states and international organizations.
Therefore, international election observation has been widely accepted all over the world and has become one of the important tasks of supporting universally recognized human rights and ensuring their observance.
Taking into account the readiness of our country to hold an important political event openly in accordance with generally recognized international electoral standards, the Central Election Commission sent an invitation to the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR) to assess the pre-election situation and the preparations for the elections to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, which will be held in December this year.
The Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) positively assessed the pre-election environment and the preparation process, as well as the measures taken in the country to ensure free and democratic elections. The OSCE has informed that with the adoption of a decision by the OSCE Permanent Council on the advisability of sending a plenipotentiary observation mission, it will soon send a full-fledged observation mission to the parliamentary elections.
The report of the OSCE ODIHR NAM notes that the reason for deployment of the full-scale mission might be a new stage of reforms, implemented under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the field of economy and public administration, including liberalization of currency regulation, simplification of visa regime, and rapprochement with neighbors, release of a number of political prisoners and law enforcement reforms.
The upcoming elections are seen by the OSCE ODIHR as an important political event on the country's transition to democracy. The report emphasizes that elections will be held in conditions of a noticeably updated election law.
The elimination of restrictions on the participation of individuals of a particular category held in places of serving sentences, the abolition of the institution of quotas for seats in the Legislative Chamber, and the implementation of a number of OSCE recommendations are also positively assessed.
The adoption of the Electoral Code and its expertise by the OSCE ODIHR and the Venice Commission are fully supported.
The following is noted as important positive changes:
-CEC public awareness plans about the upcoming elections;
-Organization of cascade trainings throughout the country, aimed at quality education of members of district and precinct election commissions on all aspects of the conduct of elections;
-Systematic work to prevent "family voting";
-Introduction into practice of a single electronic voter list;
-Creation of necessary conditions, allowing people with disabilities to participate in voting process.
At the same time, the NAM report includes some criticisms as well. A working group has already been formed for the purpose to carefully study the deficiencies and to prepare proposals for the elimination of such deficiencies.
Currently, according to a number of provisions, Uzbekistan has its own principled position, based on many years of practice in holding elections.
During the upcoming visit of the OSCE ODIHR mission, these issues will be constructively discussed from different perspectives. In any case, we are ready to take into account all the recommendations that will help to ensure freedom of expression of our citizens. This, first of all, will serve our interests.
Since then, Uzbekistan has already implemented a number of recommendations from the OSCE ODIHR election observation mission. Clear examples of this are the adoption of single election code, introduction of information and communication technology in the electoral process, improvement of personnel training and etc.
In contrast to the previous parliamentary elections with participation of limited number of OSCE ODIHR observers (around 30), this year about 300 representatives are expected to attend the upcoming elections. According to preliminary data, the mission will include 30 long-term and 250 short-term observers. The responsibility of long-term observers is to monitor various stages of the electoral process, including monitoring the process in regions, while short-term observers are responsible for monitoring the voting process at designated areas on election day.
The implementation of such a large-scale observation in future elections will create the opportunity to guarantee freedom of expression of the people, to fairly assess the compliance of the electoral process with democratic principles.
Ensuring the wide and active participation of observers in future parliamentary elections will serve to further enhance the prestige of the Republic of Uzbekistan as a democratic state.