OSCE observers give Ukraine election a clean bill of health

KIEV, Oct 27 (Reuters) - OSCE election observers gave Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine a clean bill of health on Monday, saying it had offered real choice and largely upheld democratic commitments.

“The elections marked an important step in Ukraine’s aspirations to consolidate democratic elections in line with its international commitments,” said Kent Harstedt, Special Coordinator for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a security and rights watchdog.

“There were many positive points to the process, such as an impartial and efficient Central Election Commission, an amply contested election that offered voters real choice, and a general respect for fundamental freedoms.”

He said voting and counting were transparent and the campaign was competitive and visible, though there were cases of intimidation and threats against candidates and workers. The media environment was diverse, he said, but noted a lack of autonomy from political or corporate interests for some media.

Another observer, Dorist Barnett of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said there had been some irregularities but polling stations performed well. There were difficulties holding the election, with some areas not voting, but this did not invalidate it, she added.

Harstedt said the observer mission included more than 900 people from 43 countries.

Reporting by Catherine Koppel, Writing by Timothy Heritage, Editing by Richard Balmforth