18 June, 2008
The partial re-runs on Sunday in the early general elections in FYROM showed a "substantial improvement over the June 1 elections, which were marred by fraud, intimidation and violence", the US state department's press relations office director, Gonzalo Gallegos, told a regular press briefing on Monday, but added that those, too, had serious irregularities in polling stations, and incorrect procedures.
"The conduct in the June 15 partial re-runs of Early Parliamentary elections were a substantial improvement over the June 1 elections, which were marred by fraud, intimidation, and violence," Gallegos said, adding that the "broad re-runs, which were held in a substantially improved security environment, restored to most voters the opportunity to freely exercise their democratic rights, which was denied them on June 1".
"Nevertheless, there were further, serious irregularities in a number of polling stations, including family and proxy voting, ballot stuffing, and incorrect procedures," Gallegos continued.
He said that the State Department supports the OSCE's ODIHR (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights) assessment "which noted that despite significant improvement in the re-runs and well administered elections, the overall parliamentary election process, taking into account the June 1 polling, did not meet some key OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) and COE (Council of Europe) commitments".
Gallegos called on the FYROM government to "continue to vigorously investigate, prosecute, and sanction, according to 'Macedonian' law, the perpetrators of election fraud, violence, and other criminal acts. We call upon the government and political party leaders to take the necessary steps to ensure that future elections clearly meet international standards, in keeping with 'Macedonia’s' aspirations for Euro-Atlantic integration.
The press relations director further said that: "We continue to strongly support 'Macedonia' for NATO membership. We support the ongoing talks under UN auspices toward resolving the name issue between 'Macedonia' and Greece, and encourage both sides to find a near-term solution that will allow them to put this issue behind them."
Source: Athens News Agency