Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

African monitors keen to oversee EU election

  • The EU sees itself as a model for free and fair elections around the world (Photo: wikipedia)

The Pan-African Parliament is in talks with the EU on sending monitors to the European elections in June, in a project that could see Zimbabwean politicians oversee voting in the UK.

The South Africa-based institution, which is the parliamentary wing of the African Union, agreed details of a monitoring mission with European Parliament officials last week.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Ten members of the African Parliament (MAPs) would first see how the UK conducts its election on 4 June. The delegation would then inspect the central vote-counting office in Wiesbaden, Germany. The MAPs would watch the final result with MEPs in Brussels on 7 June.

The main goal of the project is to learn lessons ahead of a potential pan-African election some time in the future. But the mission would also produce a final report on EU democratic standards.

The scheme could fall through if it clashes with the African parliament's plenary session. But if it goes ahead, it would represent a role reversal for the EU, which frequently organises election monitoring missions to African states.

The African parliament has suspended the activities of members that recently suffered coups d'etat, as in Mauritania, Guinea and Madagascar.

But there is a prospect that countries with a poor track record on democracy and human rights, such as Zimbabwe, could form part of the 10-man EU monitoring team.

If a Zimbabwean delegate is chosen, he or she might come from an opposition party instead of the camp of authoritarian President Robert Mugabe, African parliament spokesman Khalid Dahab told EUobserver.

"I was in both rounds of the Zimbabwe elections as a co-ordinator for our observation mission," he said. "The first round met the minimum standards of being free and fair. But we criticised the second round very strongly and said it does not represent the will of the people."

"I don't think the fact that Zimbabwe is a member of our organisation has a negative effect on our work," he added.

The African parliament is not the only body keen to keep an eye on the EU vote.

The broader African Union is itself in advanced talks with the European Commission about sending monitors. The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) club of countries has expressed an interest in coming over in June.

The Russian Duma has contacted the European Parliament about sending delegates. Ecuador in a recent letter inviting EU monitors to its vote on 26 April offered to send a reciprocal team for the EU poll.

The Russian card

Officials from the ODIHR, the election-monitoring branch of the Vienna-based pro-democracy club, the OSCE, are also in Brussels this week to evaluate if the body should send observers.

The ODIHR regularly monitors national elections in EU states, but on a much smaller scale than in "transitional" countries such as Belarus or Kazakhstan.

It did not send observers to the 2004 European Parliament election. But its 2004 evaluation report raised concerns about low turnout and the disenfranchisement of voters in Latvia, Estonia and Cyprus.

In Cyprus, the 80,000 or so Turkish Cypritos who live in the Turkish-controlled zone have to cross the green line to vote and can only choose from parties registered with central authorities in Nicosia. The 160,000 Turkish settlers who live in the north can not vote in the EU poll.

In Latvia and Estonia, about 16 percent and eight percent of the population, respectively, are former citizens of the now defunct Soviet Union who have not yet obtained a new nationality and cannot take part in the EU election. The situation is often mentioned in Russian criticism of EU respect for its own democratic values.

"Some of them don't want to learn the language or do the paperwork. For some, it's just an attitude," a Latvian diplomat said. "The Russians love to play this card."

Analysis

EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock

Angela Merkel's failure to form a coalition government has raised concerns in Europe that the EU's most powerful country will send the block into paralysis.

Interview

David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees

David Miliband heads the US-based International Rescue Committee, an international aid organisation. In an interview with EUobserver, he says the EU should take over 500,000 refugees.

Focus

EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans

The EU trains the Libyan coastguard and set up a monitoring mechanism to ensure they respect the human rights of migrants. But the mechanism only requires Libyans to file reports about themselves.

Focus

EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  3. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  4. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  5. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  6. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  7. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  8. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  9. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  11. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  12. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'

Latest News

  1. 1.3 million European citizens in call for glyphosate ban
  2. EU 'cannot afford' lengthy German deadlock
  3. David Miliband: EU should take over 500,000 refugees
  4. EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual
  5. EU monitoring of Libyan coastguard done by Libyans
  6. Greek opposition leader promises end to 'surreal' era
  7. Refugee case could topple Slovenia government
  8. Leak: EU states weaken post-Dieselgate testing