Foreign diplomats to oversee Gujarat elections
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Foreign diplomats to oversee Gujarat elections

Diplomats from the US, EU and four European countries will unofficially oversee the Gujarat elections.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2002 10:45 IST
Agence France Presse
Agence France Presse

Seventeen international diplomats were expected to arrive on Wednesday in Gujarat to unofficially observe the Assembly elections, a government official has said.

Eight are from the United States, three are from Britain, one each from Italy and Sweden and two each from the European Union and the Netherlands.

"Eight of these diplomats have already arrived in Gujarat and are spreading out in various parts of the state," said Pankaj Kumar, Gujarat's relief commissioner.

Kumar said the envoys would visit various polling booths in the state and observe the conduct of the elections on Thursday.

"One of their teams would also go to Godhra to observe the polling there," he said.

Kumar said the diplomats would also visit other sensitive regions in the state such as Ahmedabad, Mehsana, Sabarkantha, Baroda, Nadiyar, Rajkot and Surat.

"The idea is to see that no human right of voting is violated. Basically, they would make their own independent observations. They are here on their own," he added.

"They would see that total transparency is maintained in the election conduct."

In September and October, elections in Jammu and Kashmir were also watched by diplomats and observers, but in an unofficial capacity.

Kumar, who is also coordinating with the Election Commission, said nearly 13,000 of the total 36,657 polling booths in the state had been identified "sensitive". Of these, 1,635 are situated in Ahmedabad, the epicentre of the riots.

"We are completely confident that the elections will be conducted peacefully given the measures taken by the government as well as the election commission," Kumar added.

Police have tightened security in the state on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's polls.

First Published: Dec 11, 2002 21:15 IST