ODIHR “Needs Assessment Mission” in Baku ahead of poll.

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.

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Ilham Aliev sworn in for third term.

Ilham Aliev was sworn in for his third term as President of Azerbaijan at a simple ceremony held in the Parliament of Azerbaijan attended by Members of Parliament, State officials and others.

Earlier the result of the 9th October Presidential election was confirmed at a special session of the Constitutional Court. The decision of the Constitutional Court based on the final report of the Central Elections Commission stated that Ilham Aliyev won the presidential election held on October 9 having gained 84.54 percent (3,126,113) voters.

Farhad Abdullayev, President of the Constitutional Court read out the Constitutional Court’s decision.

Other candidates received the following number of votes:

Jamil Hasanli – 5.53 percent (204,642 votes)

Iqbal Aghazade – 2.40 percent (88,723 votes)

Gudret Hasanguliyev – 1.99 percent (73,702 votes)

Zahid Oruj – 1.46 percent (53,839 votes)

Ilyas Ismayilov – 1.07 percent (39,722 votes)

Araz Alizade – 0.87 percent (32,069 votes)

Faraj Guliyev – 0.86 percent (31,926 votes)

Hafiz Hajiyev – 0.66 percent (24,461 votes)

Sardar Mammadov – 0.61 percent (22,773 votes).

source: Caucasus Elections Watch with Trend News Agency (Baku)

Elnur Aslanov: “We are creating full conditions for open and transparent elections, we are decisive.”

Elnur Aslanov

Elnur Aslanov

Less than two weeks ahead of Presidential elections in Azerbaijan the Turkish newspaper “Todays’ Zaman” carried an interview with Elnur Aslanov, chief of the Presidential Administration’s Political Analysis and Information Department, in which the senior Azerbaijani official talked about the country’s improving democratic development and rapidly shifting face. Calling his country a nation with an “eastern mentality and western pragmatism,” Aslanov had no doubt that Azerbaijan has made great progress toward democracy, noting that there is still a road ahead. 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.