Margvelashvili launches programme ahead of Presidential election in Georgia.

 Giorgi Margvelashvili, the Candidate of the Georgian Dream Party has launched his political programme ahead of Presidential elections in Georgia on October 27. Speaking at a grandiose event which was also attended by Georgian Dream leader, Prime Minister Bidhzina Ivanishvili, Margvelashvili outlined his vision of the Georgian Presidency in the future, saying that the president will be a guarantor of political freedom and a democratic system. More…

“Electronic democracy is ensured at the highest level possible in Azerbaijan”

Elnur Aslanov

Elnur Aslanov

Senior Presidential Administration official, Elnur Aslanov told AzerTaj news Agency that Azerbaijan does not interfere with the freedom of internet users and that 70% of the population was now on-line.

The government in Azerbaijan has provided all opportunities for citizens to have a free access to information. There is a free internet in the country. There are thousands of free bloggers on an internet space of Azerbaijan. There are tens of online radios, online TVs, hundreds of e-newspapers and e-magazines. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are extremely popular among the population. Social networks have become an integral part of our lives. It has also become a space of political discussions and exchange of view. Internet has already become a part of daily lives of people in Azerbaijan. The state is the first providing a free internet access for every citizen. More…

Short, sharp, but not at all sweet.

The TV debate on 17 September

The TV debate on 17 September

It may be short, and in many ways it is also sharp, but the 22-day campaign ahead of Presidential elections in Azerbaijan next month is anything but sweet. So far the campaign is characterised by heated exchanges between representatives of the incumbent president, Ilham Aliev, and the candidate of the opposition National Council, Camil Hassanli.

In the first televised debate of the campaign Hassanli clashed with the Executive Secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Ali Akmedov in scenes that would be considered common in many other countries, but which for Azerbaijan were highly unusual. Azerbaijan’s opposition has for most of the time over the last five years been restricted to criticising the government on the internet and through the medium of its own newspapers. Now after a long time opposition spokespersons were on national television, accusing the government of corruption and mismanagement of the country. Contact.az reported that “in the first round of debates on September 17, Camil Hassanli threw down the gauntlet to Ilham Aliyev, and unexpectedly, even for other panelists, directly accused the current president of corruption and embezzlement of billions of funds.”

Government spokesmen on their party continue to characterise the opposition as incompetent, divided and acting in the interests of foreigners. Ilham Aliev’s campaign, which is being spearheaded by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party is focusing primarily on the achievements of the government in eradicating poverty, developing the country ,and creating a strong state. Pro Aliev spokespersons dismiss accusations that the there is no freedom of speech in Azerbaijan, citing complete internet freedom and plurality within the printed media. More…

So much for the secular Republic

Sheikhulisam Allahsukur Pashazade

Sheikhulisam Allahsukur Pashazade

There was considerable astonishment in political circles in Azerbaijan and beyond at a statement issued ahead of the 9 October presidential Elections by representatives of Azerbaijan religious communities, who were gathered together by the senior Muslim Cleric in Azerbaijan, the Chairman of the Board of Caucasian Muslims, Sheikhulislam Allahshukur Pashazade. In the statement the religious leaders called on their people to vote for the incumbent president, Ilham Aliev.

The Azerbaijani news Agency, APA reported on 19 September that “the statement says that despite the separation of religion and state, true believers should not be separated from the motherland: “Believers have begun to live properly after Heydar Aliyev returned to power. Heydar Aliyev felt the essence of Islam and appreciated its role in improving the moral of the people. President Ilham Aliyev is currently continuing the successful path of Heydar Aliyev and has been able to achieve the believers’ sympathy. Muslims, Jews and Christians in Azerbaijan always feel the state care. Ilham Aliyev regards religious tolerance as the biggest boon. As believers, we thank Ilham Aliyev for his care for the believers during his 10-year presidency. We call on our people to vote for Ilham Aliyev in the upcoming presidential elections”.

In many countries interference by religious leaders in elections is illegal, and only in countries like Iran do the clergy play a direct part in politics. Azerbaijani politicians, both pro-government and pro-opposition, often boast about Azerbaijan being a secular republic and such blatant interference, if indeed the statement is accurate, will raise a lot of questions and offer a dangerous precedent. It is also not clear to what extent leaders of other religious denominations acquiesced with the statement.

source CEW with APA

Ten Presidential Candidates in Azerbaijan have three weeks to campaign.

The ten candidates registered for the Presidential Election in Azerbaijan.

The ten candidates registered for the Presidential Election in Azerbaijan.

Campaigning in Azerbaijan’s presidential election kicked off on 16 September in a campaign that is to last only three weeks. Voting takes place on 9 October. By the start of the campaign ten candidates had been registered. Three others were contesting through the courts by the Central Elections Commission not to register their candidacy due to alleged errors in the signatures of the voters nominating them. Azerbaijani law requires candidates to be supported by at least 40,000 voters to be eligible for registration. No campaigning was allowed prior to the official start of the campaign.

Azerbaijani CEC refuses to register Ilgar Mammedov as Presidential Candidate

ilgar mammedov 2The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission has refused to register Ilgar Mammedov as a candidate in next month’s Presidential elections, saying that some of the signatures of the 40,000 needed to nominate a Presidential candidate were false.  Mammedov is currently in jail accused of inciting violence during incidents in the region of Ismail last January. Amnesty International has declared him a prisoner of conscience.

The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission stated  that Ilgar Mammedov had submitted 41 247 signatures and 4 982 out of them turned out to be invalid.

According to the Azerbaijani Press Agency (APA) CEC chairman Mazahir Panahov said that representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan also took part in the checking process of the signatures, along with the representatives of international organization: “In general, all our steps are clear.” However, the Press service of the US Embassy in Azerbaijan told APA that the Embassy did not play any role in the process: “The reports that the representative of the US Embassy took part in the counting of the signatures are groundless”. More…