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OSCE Welcomes Turkmen Engagement

Irish Senator James Walsh, the head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's monitoring mission, expressed hope Turkmenistan would work to achieve a "truly...democratic [and] multiparty system."
The head of an OSCE monitoring mission of Turkmenistan's parliamentary vote has said the country still has a "long way to go" to fulfill its commitments to democratic standards and human rights, but that "engagement is much more productive than isolation."

In an e-mail interview with RFE/RL, James Walsh of Ireland said the latest parliamentary elections marked the first time the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly had received an open invitation from Ashgabat to monitor a vote.

While noting it was the first Turkmen election in which more than one party contested seats, he said he hoped Ashgabat would work to achieve a "truly...democratic [and] multiparty system."

The mission will issue its assessment in February.

The OSCE's main election-monitoring body, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), did not send an observer mission, saying the "absence of a functional opposition" rendered it unnecessary.

ODIHR instead sent a lower-level election-assessment mission, intended to gain a greater understanding of Turkmenistan's electoral processes.