The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) says it will not send observers to Turkmenistan's presidential election in February, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.
Representatives from ODIHR visited Turkmenistan in December to meet with Turkmen officials, review the election preparations in the country, and determine the possibilities monitors would have if they were deployed for the election campaign and vote.
But in a statement ODIHR said it "does not consider that the deployment of an election observation mission, even of a limited nature, would add value at this point in time."
The statement did say the organization, "mindful of the declared interest of the authorities of Turkmenistan to maintain a dialogue," would send an Election Assessment Mission that would "further review the legal and administrative framework for elections and also visit some regions of the country to gain a more substantive understanding of its electoral processes."
That mission is expected to release a report some eight weeks after the election with recommendations for " assisting Turkmenistan in its stated intention of holding elections according to democratic standards, consistent with its OSCE commitments."
ODIHR has never sent observers to any of Turkmenistan's elections, either parliamentary or presidential. The February 12 election is only the second time in the country's 20-year history as an independent state that it is conducting a presidential election with more than one candidate competing.
Incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov won that election in February 2007 with some 89 percent of the vote.
Berdymukhammedov faced five opponents in the 2007. This time he competes against seven other candidates, none of whom are well-known to the Turkmen public, almost ensuring Berdymukhammedov another five-year term in office.
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