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Monday, November 07, 2005

Azerbaijan's opposition calls for new elections

BAKU, November 7(RIA Novosti) - Azerbaijan's opposition parties have called for new parliamentary elections, Chairman of the Popular Front Party Ali Kerimli said Monday. "The opposition demands new parliamentary elections," Kerimli said. "The opposition has not cancelled the rallies set for November 8 but has postponed them until November 9... We urge journalists to come to the protest rally." A protest rally of the Azadyg (Freedom) bloc comprised of three main opposition parties - the Popular Front Party (PFPA), the Musavat Party, and the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) - was initially set for November 8. The ruling party, Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan), is the frontrunner in Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections with 91.39% of the votes counted as of 8.00 a.m. GMT, the Central Election Commission said Monday. According to preliminary results from Sunday's vote, with 91.39% of the votes counted, the Yeni Azerbaijan has already taken 64 of 125 seats in the Milli Majlis, and independent candidates have taken 40 seats. The oppositionist Musavat Party has taken four seats, and the Civil Solidarity and Ana Vatan (Motherland) parties have two seats each. The Popular Front Party, which claims observers have collated more than 27,000 electoral violations, the Umid (Hope) Party, and four other parties have one seat each. The Commonwealth of Independent States' observer mission said there had been no major violations at the polls.

Azerbaijan Vote Failed to Meet International Standards - OSCE

07.11.2005 15:53 MSK MosNews - The International Election Observation Mission of the OSCE said the elections in Azerbaijan did not meet a number of OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards for democratic elections. While there were improvements in some respects during the pre-election period, uncertainty was evident with regard to key aspects of the process such as voter registration, and continued restrictions on the freedom of assembly, a fundamental right, marred the campaign period, the OSCE said in a press release published on its official website Monday. The OSCE observers noted that "voting was generally calm, but the election day process deteriorated progressively during the counting and, in particular, the tabulation of the votes. The mission deployed 665 observers from 42 countries for the election, visiting more than half of all polling stations in the country." "The shortcomings that were observed, particularly during election day, have led us to conclude that the elections did not meet Azerbaijan's international commitments on elections. It pains me to report that progress noted in the pre-election period was undermined by significant deficiencies in the count," said Alcee L. Hastings, president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the special co-ordinator for the short-term observers. Despite an inclusive candidate registration, which provided for a competitive election in most constituencies and enhanced voter choice, interference from executive authorities and media bias favoring incumbents resulted in a failure to provide equitable conditions for all candidates during the campaign period. At times, civil and political rights were infringed upon and there was harassment and intimidation of some candidates and their supporters. The complaints and appeals process overall did not provide redress for these shortcomings. The head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Leo Platvoet, said: "The Council of Europe is the guardian par excellence of democratic principles. These were not fully respected in this election." The shortcomings included interference by local authorities, disproportionate use of force to thwart rallies, arbitrary detentions, restrictive interpretations of campaign provisions, unbalanced composition of election commissions and the failure of those commissions to effectively address a number of issues.

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