The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) will send a "full" observation mission to monitor September's parliamentary elections in Belarus, the Assembly's press office said.
The mission will be led by Italian MP Matteo Mecacci, who chairs the Assembly's human rights committee.
"We come into this election observation with an open mind and outstretched hand to our friends in Belarus," Mr. Mecacci was quoted as saying. "It is our hope that we witness marked improvement from the last election and that all people, including some now under house arrest or in prison, will be allowed to participate in the parliamentary election without intimidation or restrictions."
OSCE PA Program Director Anna Chernova participated in a Needs Assessment Mission with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Minsk between July 16 and 18, according to the press office.
Officials in Minsk stated their willingness to cooperate with an OSCE election observation mission in line with the government's official invitation which welcomed OSCE observers without restrictions.
The Needs Assessment Mission met with election officials, parliamentarians, registered and unregistered political parties and movements, officials representing the Presidential Administration, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Information, and Justice, as well as state media, independent journalists and non-governmental organizations.
The OSCE PA observed elections in Belarus in 1995, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Not a single elected official of the OSCE PA has been allowed to visit Belarus since the 2010 presidential election. // BelaPAN