ISLAMABAD: The European Union is set to formally launch its mission to observe the democratic transition in Pakistan today (Monday).
Last week, the 27-nation bloc appointed Michael Gahler, Member of the European Parliament, to head the EU election observer mission (EOM). Gahler, who arrived here on Sunday, will officially kick off the EU observer mission along with diplomats and other representatives at a news conference today.
The EU mission is the first international observer delegation to arrive in Pakistan to assess the May 11 polls and their preparation.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a diplomat said the EU was deploying an election observation mission at the invitation of the government of Pakistan.
A core team of eleven EU election analysts has already started working in Pakistan. They will gradually be joined by 52 long-term observers and 46 short-term observers from 27 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland and Canada.
In total, about 100 EU observers will be in the country for the forthcoming elections. The EU EOM might also be joined by a delegation from the European Parliament on the Election Day.
Shortly after Election Day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement of its initial findings at a press conference in Islamabad. The mission will remain in Pakistan to observe the final counting of votes and any complaint procedures, and to prepare a full report including recommendations to improve the electoral process.
In 2008, the EU EOM was the largest international observation group in the country, covering 65% of the constituencies. The mission was led by Gahler back then as well.
On the 2008 Election Day, the mission included 131 observers from 23 EU member states, in addition to Norway and Canada. They visited 445 polling stations in 115 constituencies to observe voting, counting and the compilation of results.
In April 2008, the EU EOM released a comprehensive final report with 83 recommendations. The recommendations were supported by the main Pakistan political parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 8th, 2013.
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