x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Arab Spring nations monitor Polish general election

Fifteen delegates from Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were invited to follow the day¿s voting in a handful of Polish polling stations.

WARSAW // Observers from Arab Spring nations monitored Poland's general election yesterday, as Warsaw shared the lessons of the democratic wave that drove out its communist regime in 1989.

Fifteen delegates from Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were invited to follow the day's voting in a handful of polling stations, said Poland's electoral commission head, Stefan Jaworski.

They visited Warsaw and the cities of Plock and Radom to oversee voting and monitor the count after polling ended.

Mohammed Salem Abunnaja, from Libya, said one of his goals was to learn lessons to be used at home.

"It's impressive to see what Poland has achieved in the past 20 years," he said. "We would like to adopt similar methods to ensure the independent operation of election bodies."

Mounira Belghouthi, a member of Tunisia's electoral commission, underscored the importance of systems to enable free and fair voting.

"In Tunisia, where we're going to the polls on October 23, the biggest challenge is to create a transparent and credible electoral system," she said.

Mohamed Momtaz Metwaly Aly, from Egypt's electoral commission, said that Poland's lessons were crucial.

The Arab observers are due to visit the Warsaw offices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe today.

Poland's Solidarity opposition movement drove the country's four-decade communist regime bloodlessly from power in 1989 in an election that was part of a deal negotiated with the government.

Since then, Warsaw has sought to share the lessons of its transition to democracy with other nations emerging from authoritarian rule.

Earlier this year, Lech Walesa, a Polish politician and human rights activist, visited Tunisia to advise its new authorities.

All six general elections in Poland since the fall of communism have seen a change in power but the centrist Civic Platform of the prime minister, Donald Tusk, is aiming for a landmark second mandate.