The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE, the leading election monitoring organisation in Europe, has decided not to observe the forthcoming Parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan scheduled for 1 November 2015. ODIHR – an institution that operates in the framework of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has monitored most of the elections held in Europe in the last two decades and has a long history of engagement with Azerbaijan.
In August, ODIHR sent a needs assessment mission to Baku to discuss with the Azerbaijani authorities and other stakeholders the arrangements for the observation mission which was scheduled to be deployed at the end of September. In its report, published on 31 August, the Assessment team recommended that an Observation Mission of around 400 persons, including a core team, 30 long term observers and three hundred and fifty short term observers should be sent. These recommendations were however rejected by the Azerbaijani government who instead proposed that the mission should have six long term observers and one hundred and twenty five short term observers.
On Friday, 11 September, the Director of ODIHR, Michael Georg Link, issued a statement saying that due to restrictions imposed by the Azerbaijani authorities, ODIHR has no choice but to cancel its mission to observe the country’s 1 November parliamentary elections. More…
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE today published the report of its needs assessment mission ahead of parliamentary Elections in Azerbaijan on 1 November. The Mission in its report recommends the deployment of an observation mission of around four hundred persons made up of a core team, long and short term observers to observe the elections. More…
The First Deputy Speaker of the Milli Meclis, Azerbaijan’s Parliament, today called for transparent and well organised elections that could be the model for other countries. Asgerov was addressing a gathering of Chairpersons from the one hundred and twenty five constituencies where polling will be taking place on 1 November for the election of a new parliament.
Azgerov told the assembled election officials that Azerbaijan was a democratic and law-based state, and these principles were reflected in the Constitution. Asgerov said that all election officials at all levels should be familiar with the election code.
An apparent split within the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) has been dismissed as a government ploy to divide and weaken the opposition by the Party’s newspaper, “Azadliq”.
Former Deputy Chairman, of the APFP. Razi Nurullaev, together with a handful of former activists, yesterday (Wednesday, 19 August) addressed a press conference at the International Press Club in Baku, during which they accused Popular Front Chairman Ali Kerimli of dictatorial practices and of having usurped his powers. Nurullaev said that a congress of the Popular Front was due to be held last September but was cancelled, and that therefore Kerimli’s mandate as Chairman had expired. Nurullaev said that there was a lot of discontent within the APFP and promised to rally around those party members who wanted change
Nurullaev resigned as Deputy Chairman of the Popular Front in February of this year and has since been involved in acrimonious exchanges with Party officials. In his capacity as Deputy Chairman of the APFP responsible for international affairs Nurullaev became a familiar face on the international circuit in Baku, as a regular point of contact between the party and embassies and international organisations. Nurullaev however is not thought to have much grass root support, within the APFP or elsewhere. More…
“There are no problems with the issue of selecting the candidates to run for parliament on the YAP ticket. The list will be announced the day after the writ calling the election is published.” This was stated by the Deputy Executive Secretary of YAP – Azerbaijan’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party, Siyavoush Novruzov MP, in a comment to Trend News Agency earlier this week.
Novruzov said that allegations that there were disagreements within the Party on this issue were provocations by opposition forces. He said that after the party publishes the list of candidates any one who still wanted to run, even if he was not on the list, had the right to do so, but he or she should not expect the party’s support.
Political observers in Baku however say that the issue is not so simple. In the past the selection of candidates by the ruling party has been a painful process, involving tough behind the scenes negotiations involving senior figures within the party and the government. Key personalities have often tried to push their supporters to be included. Some reports suggest that this time round the party wants to have new faces in the parliament, which means that some veterans will have to make way. While this has also happened in the past reports suggest that it may be on an even larger scale this time.
Critics of the government in Azerbaijan say that the process of selecting the candidates of YAP is not transparent. It is likely that the behind the scenes horse-trading will continue for the next month before the list is finally revealed, probably in early October.
“The National Council”, Azerbaijan’s umbrella opposition organisation, has outlined what it considers to be the necessary minimum conditions for credible elections to take place in the country. In a report published on Tuesday (18 August) the Council analysis the current political conditions and sets out four demands which it considers necessary for free and fair elections to be held.
The demands include the release of political prisoners and end of political repression; an end to restrictions on the freedom of assembly; a halt to pressure on journalists and free air time on television for political parties; and changes to the composition of the election commissions and guarantees of a fair electoral process during voting and counting.
The report of the “National Council” whilst confirming its willingness to participate in the political process, leaves some questions as to whether it will participate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections if these conditions are not met. It calls on the government to create the right conditions for the elections by implementing its demands
Photo: Leaders of the “National Council”, including Council Chairman Camil Hassanli and Popular Front leader, Ali Kerimli, at a meeting at the international Press Club in Baku (Archive Picture).