The ruling party of Azerbaijan, the New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), has announced that Ilham Aliyev, incumbent president and Chairman of the YAP will be the party’s candidate for the presidential elections scheduled for October 2013. The candidacy was announced last week by deputy party chairman, Ali Ahmadov. Ahmadov stated that the official announcement will be made at a party convention to be held before the elections.
Stressing the rapid economic development as well as the rise of Azerbaijan’s international profile during his time as president, Ahmadov, indicated Aliyev was the natural choice. “A candidate from the ruling party,” he said, “is the candidate supported by the Azerbaijani people. We have repeatedly stated that the candidature of the chairman of the ruling party, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is supported not only by all members of the party, but by most people.”
Aliyev will be running for his third term in office. He was elected on October 15, 2003 and October 15, 2008. In 2008, according to the OSCE-ODIHR report, Aliyev received 88.7% of the vote. Ilham Aliyev was preceded by his father, Heydar Aliyev, who was president from 1993 to 2003. Until recently, the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan only permitted a person to preside over two terms as President. However, the President recently signed into law a constitutional amendment which will allow individuals to run for and hold an unlimited number of consecutive terms as President.
With regard to elections observation, Bahar Muradova, deputy speaker of the parliament in Azerbaijan, told reporters that Azerbaijan is always interested in inviting international representatives to observe the elections, including the October 2013 Presidential elections. Muradova invited the OSCE to monitor the 2013 Presidential elections during the visit of Eamon Gilmore, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, to Baku in June. Gilmore expressed his hope that Azerbaijan will continue to implement the recommendations made by the last OSCE-ODIHR mission for the 2008 Presidential elections.
The OSCE-ODIHR Elections Observation Mission from the 2008 Presidential elections made numerous recommendations on how to improve the conduct of elections to the government of Azerbaijan. The OSCE suggested engagement in a dialogue with other political actors in Azerbaijan to address issues surrounding the Election Code, particularly the complaints and appeals mechanism, voter and candidate registration procedures, the need for a more balanced media environment during campaigning, unbiased domestic observers and tightening voting procedures.
The opposition parties and civil society in Azerbaijan, as reported previously in CEW, organised a round table over proposed amendments to the Election Code. If these amendments do not pass in Azerbaijan’s parliament this autumn, the opposition has declared they will boycott the upcoming elections. Ahmadov during his announcement noted that YA P continues regular dialogue with the opposition. However he commented that his understanding of dialogue does not include “a squabble around the round table.”
In June, the parliament of Azerbaijan also passed legislation granting amnesty to past and present Presidents of the Republic, and their spouses for acts carried out under their responsibility both before his or her election and during his or her term in office. Furthermore, the law provides a pension of 50% of the salary received while president from the day the ex-President steps out of office until his or her death. In the event of his or her death the pension will be extended to the surviving spouse, in the absence of a spouse the pension will go to any children under the age of 18. The law will not apply to a President who has been impeached.
Compiled by Karina Gould for CEW from Azerbaijani media sources.