Like Bethan Jenkins, I’m very interested in what’s been taking place in Moldova in recent days, having visited the country a year ago.
I visited Chisinau for Moldovan independence day and made day trips to Comrat, the capital of the Gaugaz area in the south of the country, and across the ‘border’ to Tiraspol and Bendery in the contested Trans-Dniestr area.
Sadly, Moldova is a country which too few people can place on a map, never mind have actually visited – despite having some of the friendliest and most helpful people that I’ve met.
As I write this, I read that the president, Voronin, has asked the Supreme Court for a recount of Sunday’s ballots. Hopefully this will lead to an end to the violence and protests that have flowered since last weekend. Not a good Easter week.
But the election in general has concerned me, not least the press release that the OSCE, the independent observers, sent out, claiming to be happy with the conduct of the elections.
Their actual report says that the elections met ‘many of the OSCE and Council of Europe commitments’ but points to a series of electoral concerns that would very probably have people like me protesting in Cardiff Bay if they were to take place on such a wide-scale here in Wales.
Amongst concerns noted were the different procedures in compiling voters lists – with discrepancies of around 160,000 voters; media bias by the main television channel in favour of the ruling Communist Party; over-production of ballots for voters abroad – three times the numbers for voters registered; in nearly 1 in 10 cases there were no verification of ballots between numbers who had attended and those counted, while three-quarters of polling booths did not include lists of candidates.
Beyond this, the OSCE admit that some allegations of intimidation, including by the police, and allegations of misuse of administrative resources were verified.
I fear that with so much potential for disagreement over the results, a simple recount of the ballots may not be enough to pacify those who believe that the results are not correct, or persuade outside observers that the election was as fair and open as it should be.