Election in Ukraine Largely Successful, says Observers

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Members of the election commission empty ballot boxes in a polling station in Kiev May 25, 2014. Photo by Reuters

The presidential elections on Sunday were largely successful and inline with international standards, despite recent violence and threats towards the Ukrainian people and authorities, said international observers.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, heads of the organizations apart of the observation mission of the presidential election in Ukraine stated that despite “numerous difficulties”, the presidential elections were highly successful and inline with international standards.

Joaos Soars, the Special Co-ordinator appointed to lead the short term observer mission, said that the people and of authorities of Ukraine had showed great “courage” in going through with the voting, despite threats from separatists.

Head of the NATO PA delegation, Karl Lamers, said: “I am glad to say that the Ukraine people and authorities have made this election a success.”  He said that people had said before the election, that “it would be important and difficult”, but he was proud of the vote’s turnout.

“Voting in large numbers have demonstrated once again that they [the Ukrainian people] want to be the masters of their own destiny… and want a united Ukraine,” Mr. Lamers said.

Andreas Gross, Head of the PACE delegation, said that the elections were “high quality”, as well as the “best answers to all aggression and those harmed in recent weeks.” 

Illkka Kanerva, head OSCE PA delegation, said: “The Ukrainian authorities carried out the election in line with international standards.”  And that the “people and authorities of Ukraine were very open” to the OSCE observers monitoring the election.

The heads stressed that dialogue between the newly elected Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, and the pro-Russian separatists is vital for a “Democratic state” as well as a solution for the internal turmoil that is tearing the country apart.

“Those who belong together can only come together through dialogue, mutual understanding, social reforms and greater fairness,” Mr. Gross said.

Mr. Gross believes that the Mr. Poroshenko knows what is required to restore order to Ukraine, and “that’s why he was elected.”

Mr. Kanerva promised “continued support” from OSCE for dialogue.

There was an “impressive turnout” with over 60% of eligible voters casting their ballots.  

This statistic is significantly higher than the turnout in the simultaneous EU parliament vote that took place in 25 of 27 countries throughout Europe.

Mr. Soars said that the large turnout was a “rebuke to those who would challenge Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

He berated efforts by pro-Russian separatist to disrupt the election, saying that the turnout showed the separatist that they “can not win by breaking the rules”.  

Mr. Kanerva said the election turnout shows the Ukrainian people’s “common goal to live in a free and populous Democracy,” and “clear determination of the Ukrainian people to choose their destiny.” 

He also said that Sunday “was critical and so is tomorrow,” and that efforts towards stabilizing Ukraine must continue.

Majority of citizens in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where pro-Russian separatists have declared a “People’s Republic”, were “prevented from voting”.

Mr. Lamers said that the residents of these regions had been “deprived” of their “constitutional rights to vote.”

Many citizens had been threatened–some, held at gunpoint–by masked gunmen.

Tana de Zulueta,head of the OSCE ODIHR long-term election observation mission, described the actions of these masked gunmen as “cowardly”.

The OSCE ODIHR “condemned” the voting violation.

Mr. Soars said the the separatists’ actions proved that their recent referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine was “illegitimate”.

In Crimea, they was no voting at all.

The separatists had previously declared that they would prevent voting in Donetsk and Luhansk following their declaration of independence from Ukraine on May 11.

Mr. Soars stated that Russian observers had been invited to join in the mission but that they had declined.

However, he said that he had seen two Russian observers in Ukraine, which was a “positive” sign.

Ms. Zulueta said that OSCE observers will stay in Ukraine until the the procedures are over and will then leave sometime in June.

“These elections are a significant step forwards to a united Ukraine,” Mr Lamers said.  And “all Ukrainians should be proud.”

 

 

 

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