Sunday, August 08, 2004

An international body will be observing the Presidential general election this November, according to a report from CNN. The US State Department reportedly "invited" the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) "to monitor the election". The call for international monitoring of a US Presidential general election (unprecedented in American history), came after 13 "Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers." Annan rejected the call on the grounds that the Bush administration can only sanction it, and so "the Democrats" (unnamed in full; only two of the alleged thirteen) asked State Secretary Colin Powell for international monitoring, which led toward heated discussion in the House, "and Republicans got an amendment," according to the Associated Press, "to a foreign aid bill that barred federal funds from being used for the United Nations to monitor U.S. elections". The OSCE "will send a preliminary mission to Washington in September to assess the size, scope, logistics and cost of the mission," according to OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir, adding that it "will then determine how many observers are required and where in the United States they will be sent." Although, according to an anonymous "State Department spokesman", "'the OSCE routinely monitors elections within its 55-state membership, including Europe, Eurasia, Canada and the United States,'" he stated, according to CNN, that "the United States does not have any details on the size and composition of the observers or what countries will provide them." In a final note, nonewithstanding that it is unprecedented that the United States will have the monitoring from an international body of its general Presidential election, the OSCE did monitor the November 2002 mid-term election as well as the 2003 California recall.

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