Transparency International said today the rejection of 842 cases of election irregularities in Montenegro by the Constitutional Court and State Election Commission reveals a poor commitment to democracy and countering corruption, and calls on the government to investigate all claims of alleged election fraud.
The fact that more than 2,500 written reports by election observers were ignored also makes a mockery of the valuable and important contributions by civil society to ensure clean elections.
Transparency International’s partner in Montenegro MANS yesterday released its second preliminary election monitoring report that criticises the Constitutional Court and the State Election Commission for failing to follow up on polling irregularities.
None of its well-documented cases of electoral fraud were investigated and the results of the elections were finalised without further review.
More than 500 observers, trained and organised by MANS, monitored the 25 May 2014 municipal elections. They recorded 842 irregularities in capital Podgorica, including parallel voter registries, violations of secrecy during voting, abuse of the postal voting process and cases of multiple voting in the first submission to the State Election Commission.
“Governments that show a weak commitment to clean elections increase the risk of corruption. Citizens need to know their officials are elected fairly and are not in power to serve vested interests. Civil society plays an important role in holding government to account and its voice must be heard,” said Virginie Coulloudon, Group Director of External Relations at Transparency International.
MANS’ activism and persistent uncovering of corruption by powerful politicians and the business elite have sparked reprisals. Recently Vanja Calovic, the Executive Director of MANS, was subjected to a shocking smear campaign in the tabloid media that is severely condemned by Transparency International and other governments and international organisations.
MANS is a respected civil society leader that enjoys public support in Montenegro. Their work against corruption and most recently their commitment to election monitoring has led to positive change.
“Attempts to smear the reputation of Vanja Calovic should have been clearly condemned by the government, which they weren’t,” said Coulloudon. “MANS work should be applauded: it is doing what a strong anti-corruption organisation should do by unmasking the corrupt locally.”
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