Ruling Party MP resigns, has party membership revoked as video reveals corruption at the heart of the political system in Azerbaijan. 1

The New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) announced Friday 28 September, that the party membership of Gular Ahmadova, a Member of the Azerbaijani Parliament, has been revoked after a video surfaced on YouTube  earlier in the week depicting the prominent YAP representative requesting a bribe from a former dean of a private university in Azerbaijan in exchange for a seat in parliament.

“The New Azerbaijan Party has expressed deep concern [regarding the] behaviours of the member of the party Gular Ahmadova together with the former rector of the International University of Azerbaijan Elshad Abdullayev in the recent video materials”, said Ali Ahmadov, (no relation to the MP in question), Deputy Chairperson of the YAP.

“Gular Ahmadova’s behaviour is not compatible with the principles and values of the party,” noted Ahmadov in a statement posted on the YAP website. “[Through] her fraud Ahmadova damaged the reputation of the ruling party in the country.” The statement continues that Ahmadova’s behaviour demonstrates she has lost the moral right to represent the YAP. Gular Ahmadova tendered her resignation on Friday in parliament, stating that as a criminal investigation was under way it would be inappropriate for her to remain in her position. She stated that she would assist the investigators, expressing confidence that the investigation will reveal the “objective truth” as well as the individuals involved in this scandal.  More…

The Georgian politicians have spoken. Now its’ the turn of the Georgian people to speak through the ballot box..

 Georgia’s two main political forces have held large rallies in the capital Tbilisi bringing to an end a highly charged election campaign.

Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili on Friday spoke in Tbilisi’s Dynamo Stadium to cheers from an enthusiastic crowd of supporters of his United National Movement, waving the parties distinctive red flag with the number 5, the party’s number on the election ballot. Saakashvili repeated the message that has been the hallmark of the UNM’s campaign, urging Georgia not to return to the past and to support the current government to enable it to pursue its current programme.

On Saturday, the opposition Georgia Dream Coalition held large rallies in the capital Tbilisi and in Georgia’s second city Kutaisi. Thousands of supporters waving blue flags with the Coalition’s logo enthusiastically cheered on the Coalition’s leader Bidhzina Ivanishvili who slammed the government for its failures particularly in field of governance.  Ivanishvili said that his party will not allow criminal godfathers to be replaced by a government of godfathers and said that the present government will for ever be remembered for its torture of prisoners and abuse of power.

The large political events of the last days went on without incident, thanks to strict management exercised by the political movements themselves, something that has been positively noted by those observing the process. More…

Leading Georgian NGO raises concerns about arrests ahead of elections.

The Georgian Young Lawyers Association has issued a statement in which its raises concerns about arrests of dozens of people in Georgia from 21-24 September. In a statement, the respected NGO which has an excellent track record of twenty years working for human rights in Georgia stated the following:

In response to the recent frequent administrative arrests in Georgia, GYLA would like to state that identity and status of certain individuals, their political or civil activities and circumstances of their arrest as well as proceedings where court ordered administrative imprisonment against them raises doubts about motivation of measures applied.

GYLA is particularly concerned with the fact that during recent days there has been a frequent cases of application of administrative detention. According to various reports, from September 21 to September 24, there were total of 23 administrative arrests on charges of disobedience to the police in several cities of Georgia . Some of the detainees are representatives of or associated with the opposition coalition Georgian Dream, including Davit Patsatsia arrested on September 21, and Kakhaber Zhorzholiani arrested on September 23. The detainees’ relation with the coalition Georgian Dream was confirmed by one of the representatives of the coalition, who informed GYLA that the detainees are coordinators and members of the coalition’s mobile group. The detainees also include persons actively involved in recent protest assemblies – Dachi Tsaguria and Beka Aladashvili, arrested on September 22, whose interests were defended by GYLA’s representative in court. More…

“Any shvilli is fine as long as he is the true choice of the Georgian people.” EPC hosts roundtable discussion about Georgia in Brussels.

Speakers at an event on the Georgian elections held at the E{PC in Brussels on 19 September 2012.

The leading Brussels think tank, The European Policy Centre (EPC), on 19 September hosted a round table discussion on the Georgian elections with the participation of Georgian politicians, and representatives from European institutions and civil society. The well attended event was chaired by Amanda Paul, Senior Analyst at the EPC.

The different views of the Georgian political spectrum were presented by Giorgi Kandelaki, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Georgian Parliament and an activist of the United National Movement who gave a spirited, somewhat aggressive presentation, whilst the opposition view was presented by a more statesmanlike presentation by Tedo Japaridze, Georgia former Foreign Minister and currently International Secretary of the Georgian Dream coalition.

The European perspective was given by the Estonian Ambassador to the EU Matti Maasikas, Polish MEP Krzysztof Lisek, Jacqueline Hale, a senior policy analyst at the Open Society Institute in Brussels and Dennis Sammut, Executive Director of LINKS, the London based think tank. More…

Debate within the Azerbaijani Opposition.

Isa Gambar, Leader of Musavat Party in Azerbaijan. Some say he won the election in 2003.

With Azerbaijan’s 2013 Presidential elections around the corner, political activists in the country are beginning to question the tactics and plans not of the government but of the opposition. For many political activists, the government’s plan is well known, and given its track record a transparent and fair transfer of power seems highly unlikely. Karina Gould follows the debate and reports for CEW. More…

Editorial Comment: Nothing less than ‘Zero Tolerance’ to election fraud is acceptable!

Georgia goes to the polls in a few days’ time. What happens on 1 October will determine the future of the country for a long time. It is for the Georgian people to decide who they want to govern them and what sort of future they want for their country. But Europe has a duty to observe this process carefully, and to give a true and fair assessment afterwards. Thousands of observers and journalists will be in Georgia these days to do just that.

On too many occasions Europe’s vision of Georgia has been clouded by considerations that are certainly not valid for the current circumstances. Georgia has a damaged society, partly a result of a style of government in recent years that has been confrontational in its approach. The prisons torture scandal over the last days has further exacerbated the problem. The European Union and the United States, Georgia’s two main friends in the world, should have done more in the past years to help raise concerns and address serious shortcomings in the field of democratic governance, human rights and the rule of law. More…