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EU assesses Pakistan's poll positively
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08:46, February 21, 2008

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The European Union said on Tuesday that Pakistan's elections are competitive and the process achieved increased public confidence.

"We are relieved that election day has passed better than had been anticipated and commend the commitment shown by voters, candidates, election staff, and representatives of media and civil society," said Michael Gahler, chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission.

An election observation delegation of the European Parliament spent the last five days in Pakistan, observing the elections held on 18 February. The delegation was part of the EU's Election Observation Mission that had been observing the two month run-up to polling day.

Speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg, where the European Parliament is seated, Gahler and EP Delegation Chair Robert Evans presented their preliminary findings about the elections in Pakistan.

The EU EOM concluded that polling was assessed positively on the whole, although some disorder and procedural irregularities were noted, particularly in female polling stations.

"Elections were held in an environment that provided significant challenges for the conduct of democratic elections," Gahler said.

Evans indicated that the election period has shown "the strong desire" of the Pakistani people for democracy and the rule of law.

"In response, we urge political parties to work responsibly to address the challenges ahead and demonstrate commitment to strengthening the electoral and wider democratic process," Evans added.

The EU mission is currently observing the results consolidation process and will remain in Pakistan to observe post election developments, including complaints and appeals.

A final report containing detailed recommendations for the future will be published within two months of the completion of the entire process, Gahler said.

The EU mission has been in Pakistan since 9 December 2007. On election day the mission had 131 observers from 23 European Union countries as well as Norway and Canada, including the seven member delegation of the European Parliament.

Source: Xinhhua

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