YEREVAN, Armenia, February 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
A high-level team of independent foreign parliamentarians and other experts has set out from Yerevan to assess Armenia's adherence to international election standards in the nation's presidential election being held today (18 February).
The group was invited to participate by the Free Society Institute (FSI), one of Armenia's oldest and largest NGOs promoting democratic values. The FSI will have 1,468 officially accredited local observers monitoring the voting process across the country. The international team has been invited to observe today's voting and assists the FSI in its observing mission.
"With 12 officially accredited international observer groups and many domestic organizations watching this election, we wanted the benefit of highly experienced and impartial advice," Edgar Hagopian, FSI's president, said. "We took the decision to invite a group of sitting MPs and other experts to provide a fresh perspective."
The advisory group is led by UK Member of Parliament Gisela Stuart and Lord Chris Rennard, a member of the British House of Lords. Others include: Juraj Droba, a member of the Slovak National Council; Sir Nick Harvey, a British MP and former minister in the current UK government; Paul Keetch, a former British MP; Ian Hernon, a British Parliamentary Correspondent since 1978; and Peter Hayes, a broadcast journalist and Parliamentary correspondent.
The FSI's Mr. Hagopian said, "We very much appreciate having our own voice advocating the continued steady progress in our elections strengthened by the participation of this group of independent experts."
The team arrived on Saturday and has visited campaign offices and been briefed by domestic experts. Today they set off in two groups to visit multiple polling stations (both within Yerevan and out of the city in rural locations). They will present a preliminary report at a press conference to be held in the Pucini Room of Yerevan's Golden Tulip Hotel Tuesday, 19 February at 2pm.
About the Armenian Free Society Institute
The Armenian Free Society Institute was established in 2004, and focuses on encouraging Armenia's ongoing evolution to becoming a fully free, democratic and civil society. It seeks to raise the awareness and appreciation of human rights and civil liberties, freedom in general, and democratic values, with a particular focus on advocacy to youth groups - tomorrow's adult citizens and voters. The FSI sent observers to every polling station in last year's parliamentary elections, and will have observers present at all polling stations for the Presidential election.
SOURCE Free Society Institute