Step backwards in Azerbaijan?

November 9th, 2010   Articles | Azerbaijan

The Azerbaijan’s elections on November 7, 2010, did not mark meaningful progress in democratic development, said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/ Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR). Cooperation partners of the Hjalmarson Foundation noted that “in many voting places the election committee told people whom they should vote for. In several places committee members themselves put numerous ballots in the boxes.”

“The Central Election Commission said that with 90 percent of the vote counted, Aliyev’s Yeni Azerbaycan (New Azerbaijan) Party increased its share in the 125-seat parliament to more than 70 seats. Candidates loyal to the regime appeared to have taken all the rest of the seats”, writes Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

“Regrettably, our observation of the overall process shows that the conditions necessary for a meaningful democratic election were not established. We are particularly concerned about restrictions of fundamental freedoms, media bias, the dominance in public life by one party, and serious violations on election day …,” said Ambassador Audrey Glover, Head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission.

Representatives of the US State Department noted “… an uneven playing field for candidates. On election day, observers from the U.S. Embassy in Baku, like their OSCE/ODIHR counterparts, noted serious violations of election procedures, including ballot box stuffing.”

- The government candidates bribed people to vote in more than one voting station and more than once. During the day one person could vote 40-50 times in different places. Even though a supervisor, by law is allowed to check if voters really live in indicated places and have the right to vote, most supervisors were not allowed to do this inspection, explained Nijat Javanshir, NIPA, that has files complaints.

He is pessimistic about the political future in Azerbaijan:

- It seems that we are going back to a one-party system – as it was during the Soviet era.

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