A “Needs Assessment Mission” from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE was in Baku in the last days, ahead of elections for the Azerbaijani Mili Meclis (Parliament), scheduled for 1 November. ODIHR usually sends assessment teams to OSCE Member states ahead of elections in order to assess the political climate and the organisational and legal framework, shortly before deploying a full Election Observation Mission. The arrival of the assessment team ends speculation as to weather ODIHR is to monitor the elections at all. Relations between the Azerbaijani government and the OSCE are at the moment quite strained. Baku recently forced the closure of the OSCE Office in Baku, to the consternation of many of the member states. ODIHR only monitors elections after it is invited to do so by the host government.
In Baku the “Needs Assessment Mission” met the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission as well as representatives of various other government departments, as well as political parties. The Mission will shortly produce a report, after which preparations for the deployment of an Observation Mission, part long term and part short term, will start. It is expected that the long term mission will start its work at the beginning of October.