EPDE Member EMDS (Azerbaijan) issues second Interim Report on the Pre-election Campaign
EMDS and ICV notes with regret that the government failed to demonstrate progress in democratization of political environment, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association during the election campaigning period.
The organizations welcome the significant increase of political interest, political discussions and public interest in overall election process during the 9 October 2013 Presidential Elections in comparison with 2008 presidential elections. However, none of the TV companies operating in the country offered airtime to candidates and their representatives to present their election platforms, as well as to discuss local and national level issues. With the exception of the Public TV, positions and views of presidential candidates were not covered by any TV company.
The last two stages of the upcoming presidential election were accompanied with pressure against socio-political activists, persecution and intimidation of opposition members, including members of National Council of Democratic Forces. Political persecutions and arrests started in early 2013, continued throughout the election period. Social media activists and bloggers were detained by police number of times, while journalist Parviz Hashimli was arrested.
Long-term observers also noted abuse of administrative resources in organizing meeting with voters for presidential candidates Ilham Aliyev, Gudrat Hasanguliyev and Hafiz Hajiyev by local executive authorities, while Jamil Hasanli and Igbal Agazade's meetings with voters were interfered and prevented by police.
Overall, election campaigning materials were destroyed in 28 percent of monitored 97 election constituencies, while in 34 percent of monitored constituencies voters were forcibly brought to meetings with pro-governmental candidates by local executive authorities. 53 percent of observed constituencies did not have suitable indoor and outdoor venues for holding meetings and other mass assemblies.
EMDS and ICV believe that reduction of election period as result of amendments to the Election Code made in 2008 and 2010 created technical obstacles to functioning of election commissions, election blocs and candidates, as well as observers.
EMDS and ICV hope that the in order to ensure voting and vote tabulation process in line with requirements of law and to avoid unauthorized intervention in the electoral processes, state bodies, election commissions, presidential candidates and their parties, public organizations and media will put forth necessary efforts.