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Ukraine elections comply with democratic standards: OSCE

Observers have said the elections in government-held areas were democratic, but could use improvement. The elections are a test for the current president, who faces criticism for austerity measures and corruption.

The local elections held in Ukraine on the weekend "generally showed respect for the democratic process," international monitors said on Monday.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called the elections "competitive" and "well-organized," while acknowledging that they took place in "a challenging political, economic, humanitarian and security environment," according to a

statement

on the organization's website.

The elections will serve as an important gauge for President Petro Poroshenko's overall public approval. Poroshenko's ruling coalition has had to fend off charges of corruption, as well as criticism for its tough austerity policies.

Despite the overall success of the elections, the OSCE noted significant problems with the country's political system, including too much meddling by powerful oligarchs. In its final assessment, the organization highlighted the need for further reform.

A 'challenging' environment

The election faced some significant hurdles stemming from the conflict between government forces and Russian-backed rebels, which has been waged since early 2013. Most notably, polls failed to open in Mariupol, Krasnoarmiisk, and Svatovo.

Nonetheless, voters expressed "general trust" in the system, monitors said, despite a wide range of candidates and a somewhat hurriedly conceived election law adopted only four months before the polls opened.

The results of the mayoral and local council races will be released by next weekend.

Elections are expected to be held in the Russian-controlled areas of the country sometime early next year, the AFP news agency reported.

blc/jil (AFP, dpa)

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