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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Azeri Ambassador Addresses US Congress

AssA-Irada 13/10/2005 19:43 - The Azeri ambassador to the United States Hafiz Pashayev has addressed a roundtable at the US Congress organized by the Washington Institute on Religion and Public Policy. Pashayev spoke of the ongoing campaigns for the November 6 parliament elections, steps at ensuring human rights, as well as democratic and economic reforms being implemented by the Azerbaijan government. The ambassador mentioned that after Azerbaijan passed its Constitution, the country held two presidential and two parliamentary elections. He admitted that some irregularities were observed in the electoral process, explaining this by the fact that the ‘election ethic' is new to the former Soviet Union republics. "The report of the OSCE on the pre-election period was positive, but issues remain to be addressed." The ambassador said that the May 11 presidential decree on improving election practices provided a favorable basis for holding a free and fair poll. "The main issue before the government is currently to ensure that the election process is not interfered with by local executive authorities." Pashayev cited changes observed since previous elections, including the fact that more than 2000 candidates are contesting 125 seats in parliament, the considerable number of international observers and allowing the ethnically-Armenian citizens of Azerbaijan living in Upper Garabagh to participate in the vote. The roundtable was attended by members of Congress, representatives of diplomats accredited in Washington, non-government organizations and media.

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