Ahead of an important parliamentary election, an LI delegation visited Georgia to study the democratic development and regional security issues. Led by LI Treasurer Robert W. Browne, and with participation of LI Vice President Abir Al-Sahlani and Secretary General Emil Kirjas, the delegation met with the top leadership of the opposition coalition 'Georgian Dream' which includes the Republican Party (LI observer member). Separate talks were held with number of deputy ministers and top parliamentarians from the governing party, as well as with the civil sector. 'The opposition and the government are obliged to sit and discuss how to conduct the election in fair and legal terms. The opposition considers that this is not a good law, that's why it must be discussed with the government,' Browne said at a press conference, noting that Georgian Dream had briefed him on their battles with the Chamber of Control. LI VP Al-Sahlani believes that 'Rivalry must be fair. Citizens must be able to go to elections without threat and intimidation and make their choice.' LI SG Emil Kirjas, expressed support for Georgia's aspiration to join NATO and EU, reminding that fulfilment of democratic criteria are basic precondition for membership. The delegation also visited the line of Russian occupation of the South Ossetia region.
Please find below some updates about the activities of the LI delegation in Georgia, through videos of the press statements and through photos.
The LI Press Conference in Tbilisi together with “Georgian Dream” (video / photos) Statement with “Georgian Dream” outside the dinner reception in Tbilisi (video / photos) News item of TV 9 Channel (video) Article on Democracy and Freedom Watch (article)
At Liberal International's 188th Executive Committee in Barcelona the delegation of the Republican Party of Georgia warned for a “disproportionate influence of voters in rural areas”. A resolution on Georgia was adopted, which expressed “deep concerns about the anti-democratic developments”.
The Those who would like to know more about the visit are advised to enter into contact with LI Policy Officer Robert Wintraecken at email@example.com.
Written Questions by ALDE MEP Hans van Baalen, President of Liberal International, to the EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton on the release of Egyptian Blogger Maikel Nabil.
1. Do you know that the Egyptian Blogger Maikel Nabil was arrested and detained recently?
2. Do you know that he is in a hunger strike and that his health situation deteriorates by the day?
3. Are you prepared to ask the Egyptian authorities to secure due justice so that he will be released wityhout delay?
4. Can you inform the European Parliament which way you will approach the Egyptian authorities in order to secure the immediate release of Maikel Nabil?
5. Are you prepared to ask the Member States of the EU to support you by their political and diplomatic means in your efforts to get Maikel Nabil released?
I participated as an elections observer in Minsk, Belarus, and had the opportunity to see how the election was held. I visited 9 polling stations in Minsk and stayed during the vote counting of one polling station.
The procedure of the voting in the polling stations was rather good. There were mistakes on individual level, but the general observation is that the voting in the polling stations went considering the circumstances well. One of the lacks in the voting procedure that was repeated in every polling station is that the staff of the electoral commission didn't write a vote protocol in during the opening of the polling station stating how many pre-election votes were cast, so as an observer I couldn't see how many had signatures there were when opening the polling station. This was repeated in all polling stations I observed.
The local electoral commission staff were very friendly, trying to make us comfortable and friendly. In every polling station there was a cafeteria selling alcohol and the interesting thing is that the price of vodka was much cheaper in these cafeterias then in the market.
When the vote count came, the local electoral commission staff became very stressed. When asking about the reason why signatures from voting lists are not counted the answer was: We have had such a good control over votes that we know it will add up. We don't need to count.
That was very alarming. The count protocol was in some polling stations pre-written, before the closing of the polling stations. In other polling stations the protocol was written in the back of the room without a possibility for the observers to see. In other polling stations the observers were not allowed to observe the count.
One major difference was between the pre-election votes where Lukasjenko had a vast majority of the votes, while the votes from the elections day didn't have the same percentage. After the count I went to observe the demonstrations that the opposition invited all citizens to.
When arrived there I found blood on the snow, people beaten by the police and candidates were taken to hospital. I went to the second venue of the demonstration, October square, where as observing the young people singing, I and other internationals and journalists were chased by the anti-riot police and some of us were injured. The anti-riot police which had been placed on red-alert violently dispersed demonstrators some of whom tried to manifest.
I had contact with our partners in Minsk during the whole time, two of our collegues working in a HR defenders organization were beaten and arrested. To writing date, more then 640 people are arrested.
The way the pseudo election was run, the size of Aleksander Lukashenko's victory and his management of the opposition demonstrations is proof of the dictatorship ruling in Belarus.
It's sad to say: The elections, even thou many citizens in Belarus voted and made their duty, were just another theater play but this time it was well directed.
As liberals we must condemn the over-violence used against the population, the lack of freedom of speech, the torture of prisoners and the un-free, unfair and un-transparent elections.
Abir Al-Sahlani, MP Swedish Centre Party
Minsk demonstration 19/12/2010 - The pollice video An IPhone video shot by Matteo Mecacci MP (Radicali Italiani, Chairman of the Liberal Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe - OSCE) at the Minsk square on Sunday, 19 December 2010
JOINT STATEMENT on situation after elections in BELARUS (in Russian below)
ALDE Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe ALDE European Parliament ELDR Liberal International
The liberal forces of Europe strongly condemn the violent repression of political protest in the aftermath of the Presidential elections in Belarus on 19 December 2010 when more than 600 people were arrested.
At least 25 civic activists and political opponents of the regime are accused of 'mass disorders' and risk up to 15 years of imprisonment. 23 of them are still detained in remand prisons: among them not only presidential candidates and politicians, but also journalists, intellectuals and our liberal partners.
The European liberals call on the Belarusian authorities to release anyone detained for the expression of critical views regarding the outcome of the election and to avoid the reappearance of the practice of imprisonment of political opponents. We demand that the investigation into the so-called 'mass disorder' be conducted in a proper and politically unbiased way. We strongly demand a clear roadmap for democratic reform and free and fair elections to be developed by the Belarusian authorities with assistance of the international institutions.