13 February 2007
Frequent incidents in these days of the pre-election preparations brought together five civil society organizations in a joint press conference held today on 13 February at the Rogner Hotel. Leaders and representatives of the Soros Foundation, the Institute for Legal and Policy Studies, the MJAFT Movement, the Albanian Helsinki Committee and the Center for Gender Alliance noted with regret that conflictuality and incidents have become frequent occurrences during the pre-election period. Hate speech and violation of the privacy of candidates have caused the concern of civil society organizations and the public at large in Albania.
As representatives of some of the most important civil society organizations in the country, they called upon the political parties, the electoral staff, the candidates and the media to concentrate on the alternatives, options and projects put forth by the candidates. Citizens desire to know what the candidates are capable of doing, what kind of positive change they propose to bring in the lives of their children, what they can do for their fellow citizens in order to be able to make an informed decision in casting their vote.
In addition, these civil society representatives expressed concern over the announcement made a couple of days ago by the Head of the Central Election Committee that the election process is in serious jeopardy due to an abundance of technical problems. In the circumstances when elections may fail simply due to technical problems, the use of hate speech, incidents and friction created by the contenders further jeopardize the possibility of holding free and fair elections. Therefore, they asked the political forces in general, the two main parties in particular, to relax tension and conflictuality and bring the campaign to a closure in a civilized and democratic manner.
The participants in the conference pointed out that the civil society is determined to monitor the election process in order to press towards having free and fair elections. Towards that end:
- A selected group of NGOs under the aegis and support of the President of the Republic of Albania is monitoring the observance of the Election Code of Ethics;
- About three thousand monitors from the civil society organizations will monitor the voting process and the counting of votes throughout the country;
- The Soros Foundation has committed support to a project designed to publish the results of the ballots once members of the counting commissions sign off on the ballot results.
The Albanian civil society announced in this conference its undivided attention to guaranteeing the vote of every Albanian citizen and to efforts to hold a fair and civilized election process.