An Abbotsford man has been selected to be a long-term election observer (LTO) for the Ukrainian presidential elections taking place March 31.
James Hart, a former member of the Pacific region of the Parole Board of Canada, was selected by CANADEM from applicants from across the country.
The Canadian government announced in December up to $24 million in support for Ukraine’s democracy ahead of the 2019 election.
CANADEM is an international not-for-profit agency that was identified as the implementing partner and, as such, recruited the LTOs.
Hart is one of eight Canadians selected for the task, along with 100 LTOs chosen from 51 OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) states.
“It is an honour to be selected to be part of an international team that has been invited by the Ukraine government to observe this important presidential election,” said Hart, who has been in the Ukraine since mid-February.
“The presence of international observers reflects the importance of this election and the international interest that this presidential election has worldwide.”
LTOs like Hart closely monitor campaign activities and the work of the election commissions, relevant government offices, media and civil society, as well as observe the resolution of election-related complaints.
The mission assesses the presidential election for compliance with OSCE commitments and other international obligations and standards for democratic elections, as well as with national election law.
The mission is headed by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and is led by Ambassador Peter Tejler and 17 core team experts based in Kyiv.
The findings of the mission will be reported in Kyiv the day after the election.
Up to another 750 short-term observers have been chosen for election day, when they monitor the opening of polling stations, voting procedures, the counting of ballots and the tabulation of the results.
Thirty-nine candidates will be on the ballot and it is possible that a second round of voting will be required. If so, the top two candidates will be on a second ballot on April 21.
This is Hart’s fourth election mission to Ukraine. Over the past 20 years he has also worked as an international election observer in the Republic of Georgia, Afghanistan and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
“I am proud to represent Canada and the people of my city, Abbotsford,” he said.