Election observers from OSCE/ODIHR played an instrumental role in mounting political crisis in Armenia as tools in hands of ruling regime to obtain much needed international legitimacy not due to fair elections but by positive headline of OSCE/ODIHR statement issued shortly after the preliminary results were announced. Armenian civil society and ordinary people were shocked and outraged by discrepancies between what they’ve witnessed and reported during ‘elections’ and what observers stated in their headline message of “mainly in line.” What I think about their shameful ‘mission’ – here, here and here.
It seems now that huge mass protests in Armenia’s capital Yerevan lead to a “full-blown credibility crisis” for OSCE/ODIHR election monitoring mission, as reported by Jean-Christophe Peuch of EurasiaNet:
"A controversial election-monitoring mission in Armenia has plunged the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights into a full-blown credibility crisis. Already under attack from member states that are hostile to ODIHR’s democratization mandate, the Warsaw-based office is now facing harsh criticism from civil society advocates.
[…] ODIHR is also coming under attack from opposition groupings in former Soviet states, which condemn the Warsaw office for failing to publicly expose election fraud, thus contributing to the consolidation of what they describe as authoritarian or semi-authoritarian regimes. In addition, recent monitoring reports that have glossed over instances of blatant fraud have also stoked a sense of chagrin among international civil society activists.
Recent elections in the Southern Caucasus region encapsulate ODIHR’s problems.
On January 5, Georgia’s incumbent leader Mikheil Saakashvili won a second five-year term with 53.5 percent of the vote. On February 19, Armenia’s Prime Minister and government candidate Serzh Sarkisian was elected president with nearly 53 percent of the vote. By obtaining just over 50 percent of the vote, Saakashvili and Sarkisian both avoided presidential run-offs against the second-place finishers in the respective elections.
Election observers from ODIHR, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and the European Parliament concluded in a joint statement that both ballots were “mostly in line with international commitments” made by the respective governments of Georgia and Armenia, but that “significant challenges” needed to be urgently addressed.
Opposition candidates in both countries denounced the elections results were fraudulent and called upon their supporters to take to the streets. Thousands of antigovernment protesters have been demonstrating in Yerevan over the past week, while in Georgia, a lackluster popular response prompted the opposition to temporarily shelve plans for a nationwide hunger strike.
On February 20, Armenia’s leading opposition candidate Levon Ter-Petrosian said he was holding international observers partially responsible for the falsification he claimed took place on Election Day.
Recounts of selected electoral districts in Armenia found some cases of gross instances of fraud that either election monitors missed, or, for whatever reason, did not report on.
Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva, who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE, held talks with Armenian officials in Yerevan on February 26. An OSCE statement issued after the meetings quoted Kanerva as calling upon the government and the opposition to solve their dispute through dialog, but made no mention of the arrests of political figures who have declared their support for Ter-Petrosian.
[…] Kanerva expressed particular concern about the situation in Yerevan, where protests calling for the annulment of the February 19 election results were in the eighth day. “After discussions with [Armenian] politicians … I’m not totally convinced about the future,” Kanerva said. “The most important thing is for peace and that there will be no violence.” […] "