The number of eligible voters in Azerbaijan is 5,093,289.

The number of voters registered on the Voters list by the Central Elections Commission of Azerbaijan amounts to 5,093,289, of which 48.3% of which are males and 51.7% are females.  According to the Azerbaijani State News Agency, Azertac the process of compiling the 2015 voters list started in January and was completed in May.

source: CEW with Azertac

“The National Council is a qualitatively different structure.”

Murad Gassanly

Murad Gassanly

CEW interviewed Murad Gassanly, the official representative of the Chairman of Azerbaijani National Council of Democratic Forces in the United Kingdom, about the plans of the opposition and the situation around the elections in Azerbaijan:

Q1: It seems that the opposition in Azerbaijan has been able for the first time to unite behind a single candidate and political platform ahead of the forthcoming Presidential elections. How important is this step? To what extent has compromise been necessary, and possible?

This is indeed an unprecedented development in Azerbaijani politics – all major political parties, organisations and civil society groups are united within the framework of the National Council, and a common candidate has been chosen to represent the democratic movement in this election. There have been previous attempts to unite the opposition but the National Council is a qualitatively different structure. More…

The Election Manifesto of Camil Hassanli, the candidate of the National Council of Democratic Forces

Camil Hasanli

Camil Hasanli

The Election Manifesto of Camil Hassanli, the candidate of the National Council of Democratic Forces  (full text)

This Manifesto sets out the policies, plans and commitments of Azerbaijani National Council of Democratic Forces, and its single, united candidate in the presidential elections of 2013. This Manifesto is drawn up in order to facilitate a free and fair pre-election environment; to create conditions for a truly competitive, democratic contest; to ensure that the rule of law and democratic principles are the basis of political power in Azerbaijan; and to achieve constructive cooperation between different political and public organizations. More…

US State Department 2012 global report on human rights exposes serious shortcomings in all three countries of the South Caucasus.

The US Department of State last week released its annual publication “Country reports on human rights practices” which reviews the global human rights situation throughout the world.. The report highlights serious problems in the field of human rights in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia and a systematic democratic deficit in the governance of the three countries. Many of the issues raised in the report have been reported on by Caucasus Elections Watch throughout last year, including the situation in prisons, problems with the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, harassment of opposition activists and problems with the electoral process.

“It is in our interest to promote the universal rights of all persons. Governments that respect human rights are more peaceful and more prosperous. They are better neighbours, stronger allies, and better economic partners. Governments that enforce safe workplaces, prohibit exploitative child and forced labour, and educate their citizens create a more level playing field and broader customer base for the global marketplace. Conversely, governments that threaten regional and global peace, from Iran to North Korea, are also egregious human rights abusers, with citizens trapped in the grip of domestic repression, economic deprivation, and international isolation.” US Secretary of State, John Kerry

“It is in our interest to promote the universal rights of all persons. Governments that respect human rights are more peaceful and more prosperous. They are better neighbours, stronger allies, and better economic partners. Governments that enforce safe workplaces, prohibit exploitative child and forced labour, and educate their citizens create a more level playing field and broader customer base for the global marketplace. Conversely, governments that threaten regional and global peace, from Iran to North Korea, are also egregious human rights abusers, with citizens trapped in the grip of domestic repression, economic deprivation, and international isolation.”
US Secretary of State, John Kerry

We reproduce here the Executive Summaries of the report with regards to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. The full report can be accessed at http://www.state.gov. More…

Georgia will conduct a population census in November 2014.

Davit Narmania, Georgia’s Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure

Davit Narmania, Georgia’s Minister
for Regional Development and
Infrastructure

The Georgian government has announced that it will conduct a population census from 5-19 November 2014, and preparations will commence from this year. The Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure Davit Narmania and the Head of the National Statistics Department Zaza Chelidze told a press conference in Tbilisi last week that special groups of people will go door-to-door to provide preliminary information about the number of persons living in houses. At the first stage, about 4 000 persons will be employed. From November 5-19, the plan will enter the second stage with a complete census of the population. 15 000 persons are being selected to conduct the interviews based on a special questionnaire.

Narmania noted that the government made a decision to conduct an agricultural census along with the population census, which means that along with social and demographic data, information will be gathered about agricultural and industrial activities. The results of the census will be published step by step, and the first results will be made public after six months, Zaza Chelidze said. About USD 10 million will be spent on the census. The last census was conducted in 1989 and found that 5 443 000 people were living in the country, including the population of the breakaway areas Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

According to the population data from 2002, which were published without a census, 4 601 500 people were living in Georgia at the time. Official figures from 2012 show that the population in territories controlled by the Georgian government was about 4.5 million, while in 2011 it was estimated to be about 4,479 000. However a number of NGOs claim that these figures are inflated and that the population of Georgia may be a million less than is claimed.

Georgia has not had a population census for a long time and the census is both a necessary and a sensitive exercise. Results of the census are likely to help build a picture of the accuracy of Georgia’s voting list, which in the past had proved to be a problematic issue during elections. The census will be an important tool in highlighting sensitive issues in Georgian society, including the issue of an aging population and birth rates amongst different ethnic groups, as well as the actual size of ethnic communities. It is therefore essential that the census be conducted with as much accuracy and professionalism as possible and that the data will be released transparently and in a timely fashion.

Source: CEW Staff report with dfwatch.org

Profile: SERZH SARGSYAN, a reluctant reformer.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, (centre), in military fatigues on the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline in 2012.

Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, (centre), in military fatigues on the Nagorno-Karabakh frontline in 2012.

The incumbent Armenian President and favorite in next month’s Presidential election, Serzh Sargsyan, was born on 30 June 1954 in the then-Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast, where he was an active member of the Komsomol Communist Youth organisation and Secretary of its local branch and later became Assistant to Genrikh Poghosyan, the First Secretary of the Nagorno-Karabakh Communist Party Regional Committee.

During 1972-1974, he served in the USSR armed forces. In 1979, he graduated from the Philological Department of Yerevan State University.

As Head of the Nagorno-Karabakh  self-defence forces Committee  from 1989-93 he was an active participant in the fighting with Azerbaijani forces that led to the region’s separation from Azerbaijan. In 1990, Serzh Sargsyan was elected as a deputy to the Supreme Council of Armenia. From 1993 to 1995, he was the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Armenia. From 1995 to 1996, he was the Head of the Republic of Armenia State Security Department and, later, the Minister of National Security. From 1996 to 1999, he was the Republic of Armenia Minister of Interior and National Security. In this position he was instrumental in helping his old friend from Nagorno-Karabakh, Robert Kocharian, who was then the President of the territory, to move to Yerevan where he eventually became President after President Levon Ter Petrosyan was forced to resign.

Under Kocharian, Sargsyan served as Minister of Defence and Secretary of the National Security Council and was appointed Prime Minister in 2007. After Kocharian second term ended Sargsyan contested the 2008 election which he won in the second round, amidst opposition claims of election fraud.

Those who have observed Serzh Sargsyan political career over the last two decades say that he is essentially a “soviet style military man who has understood the need for reform”.  He has been able to manage expertly the rough and tumble of Armenia political life, managing first the transition from Ter Petrosyan to Kocharian, and later his own transition to the Presidency. He is well aware of Armenia’s challenges and limitations and is subsequently a pragmatist. When in 2007 he emerged from the relative shadow of appointments in the military and security sides of government to become Prime Minister, he embraced reform as a necessity. He pursued it cautiously but not without vigor. This has also been the hallmark of his presidency since 2008. More…