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Yugoslavia: "A Free And Fair Election"

Press Release Belgrade,
September 26, 2000

"A Free And Fair Election", International Observers Say.

The 210 international observers from 54 countries who have come to Yugoslavia to monitor the elections have among them current and former parliamentarians, representatives from political parties and organizations, as well as scholars, journalists and activists. They have been able to view the electoral activities from rallies to the actual voting on September 24 and many have taken the opportunity to meet with the leaders of various political parties and the different presidential campaigns.

The observers feel strongly that they have had free, unobstructed access to the relevant activities and particularly to the voting on the 24 when observers visited polling stations in different parts of Yugoslavia, including Montenegro and Kosovo.

In Montenegro, the ca 20 foreign observers witnessed an overall atmosphere of intimidation of the voters, originating from the government of Mr. Djukanovic which is boycotting the elections. Everywhere there were huge billboards telling people not to vote. These had the appearances of threats: "Don't vote or else..." Some of those who did vote, told the observers that they felt voting was risky for them and could lead to the loss of jobs and other forms of harassment, as the polling stations were watched by the police and cameras not belonging to the media were pointed at the citizens coming to vote. In one poll Serbian refugees from Kosovo told the observers that hundreds of them had been left off the voters' lists, although they had the necessary documentation to be able to vote. (This situation was brought to the attention of the Montenegrin Electoral Commission and a more detailed report will be forwarded to the Federal Electoral Commission of Yugoslavia.)

The observers note that the voting process overall was orderly and smooth although it involved three separate ballots with multiple choices. The voting process, in the opinion of many, was equal or superior to the ones in their own countries.

The observers feel strongly that the so-called "international community" has been abusive of Yugoslavia and democratic principles, in declaring weeks ahead that the election will be "rigged" and heaping constant abuse at the authorities in Yugoslavia who are trying to carry out a complicated, multi-level election in stressful conditions. This abuse has continued after the election, with leaders of Western countries declaring only a few hours after the election that Mr. Kustunica has won, as if they would have had privileged access to the voting results! This leads us to wonder whether if Mr. Kustunica in fact comes first, whether his election will also be considered fraudulent, because, after all, "everybody knows" that the election was rigged.

The observers believe that there has been undue interference in the Yugoslavian election by the Western powers, in particular by the United States, which has seen fit to interfere to the tune of $77(US) million to various opposition movements and organizations, including the "independent" media. This is a shameful - and no doubt illegal - intrusion into the affairs of a sovereign nation. Also the attempts by the European Union to bribe Yugoslavian voters to vote in a certain way in order to be "rewarded" with the lifting of sanctions and other goodies, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

The observers leave Yugoslavia with a hightened respect for the integrity of the political process in the country. From what we have seen and heard, we believe that the results will truly reflect the will and the wishes of the people of Yugoslavia. -30-

This statement has so far (26.9.) been endorsed by representatives from the following countries:

Argentine, Armenia, Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, El Salvador, Germany, India, Ireland, Jordan, Moldavia, Nicaragua, Portugal, with observers from the rest of the 50 or so countries prepared to sign and others having left the country before the statement was ready. This is, by and large, a consensus statement by all observers.

Contact person: Marjaleena Repo, Toronto & Saskatoon, Canada. In Belgrade at the Inter-Continental Hotel, Room 335. Tel: 381-11-311-3333. In Canada after 29th: (416) 466-6533 or (306)244-9724 e-mail: ccaftnat@sk.sympatico.ca


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