TODAY.AZ / Politics

OSCE Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Bureau spread report on results of its mission’s visit to Azerbaijan

21 June 2005 [09:39] - TODAY.AZ
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) realized the Requirements Estimating Mission (REM) in Azerbaijan on June 5-10, 2005.
The members of the mission were the head of the Elections Department of OSCE/ODIHR Gerald Mitchell, the counselor on elections Jonathan Stronsid and the expert on elections Harald Jepsen. REM was accompanied by the ambassador Geert Arens who was supposed to be the head of the Election Observation Mission (EOM).

Taking into consideration the parliamentary elections to be held in November 2005, the purpose of the mission was to estimate the terms of OSCE/ODIHR EOM and to provide the recommendations on forming of the mentioned mission. REM met with the governmental organs, election administration, political parties, and representatives of the society, media and international community in Baku. OSCE spread a report in this connection. It is said in the report entered APA from the OSCE Baku office that though it is planned to hold the election to Milli Majlis in November 2005, the date of the elections has not been officially declared yet. The main amendment from the new elections standpoint is eliminating of the proportional list portion of the parliamentary elections. All 125 parliamentarians will be elected on the basis of the list of the candidates on the majority system in a single round after this.

OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe prepared the “Joint Recommendations to the Election Code and Election Administration in Azerbaijan” in 2004.

Though the governmental organs presented the primary amendments of the Election Code to the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, these offers do not meet requirements of the most of the recommendations. The following part of the amendments was presented to the Venice Commission for reviewing during the visit of OSCE/ODIHR. Other laws affecting the election process cover the OSCE commitment and several terms violating other international standards of holding the democratic elections.

During REM the governmental organs noted that political will to provide making significant amendments to the election process existed. As the examples they showed the Order of the President dating to May 11, 2005 called “Development of the Election Practice in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, still gathering of the opposition taken place on June 4, 2005 and forming of the Public Television as an independent structure. The Central Election Commission (CEC) informed about probability that a great number of the internally displaced persons would create difficulties in the process of election organizing.

REM determined several problems needed to be immediately solved for the purpose of increasing public confidence and providing the election process making progress in fulfilling the OSCE commitments. Some of those questions are the followings:

Composition of the election commissions in all levels must be formed so that it could provide public confidence and especially confidence of the persons putting forward their candidacies.

The election officials undertaken to realize series of fake measures resulting in invalidity of the election results in 694 election stations and the persons accountable for a Precinct Election

Commission where serious violations took place during the presidential election in 2003 must be called to account and must not be drawn into the parliamentary elections.

The right of putting forward the candidacies of the persons who were arrested for the confrontations taken place after the election of 2003 and pardoned at the end must be restored.

Authorities given to the local organs limiting the political gatherings must be reduced and liberty of gathering in the period of elections must be respected.

The governmental organs must fulfill the previous recommendations for using the colored finger-prints of the electors as the measure of public confidence and transparency.

The terms of the law prohibiting observation of the elections by the non-governmental organizations being 30 % financed by the foreign state sources must be reconsidered.

Other concerns of the REM are related with exactness of voters’ list and transparency of their collecting, ability of media functioning freely and demanding great amount of deposit for the registration of candidates. Taking into consideration the declarations on political will, existence of political party system and pluralism in media to a certain extent and ensuring wide support of the observing mission, the OSCE /ODIHR recommends establishing EOM. OSCE/ODIHR will have to look into its position again in case no sufficient achievements or restrictions for Election Observing Mission (EOM) to observe the necessary elements of the election process. OSCE /ODIHR received invitation by the government of Azerbaijan Republic to observe the parliamentary elections on 16 June.

OSCE/ODIHR asks the member states to appoint 28 long-term observers and 500 short-term observers for the election week to the EOM to be send on an official journey starting by September, 2005.The long-term observers will observe the registration of the candidates and the election campaign while the short-term observers will observe the procedures of the election day including voting, calculation of votes and accounting of the results.

The Final Report put forward some recommendations for improving the election process and OSCE/ODIHR conducted meetings with authorities of Azerbaijan to stress the seriousness of problem when the report was published. The government authorities didn’t agree with the results of EOM and took insignificant measures for fulfilling the recommendations.

However, the government authorities announced the existence of necessary political will for making significant amendments to the election process to REM. They particularly stressed President Ilham Aliyev’s decree “Development of the Election Practice in the Republic of Azerbaijan” dating to 11 May, 2005 in this case. The order states some several recommendations and instructions for executive bodies and other organizations for providing the holding of the parliamentary elections in accordance with the Election Code. The executive decree will provide guarantee for ensuring significant development in holding of the elections if executed fully.

However, a number of interlocutors don’t consider it convincing that the presidential decree will change the practice applied by the executive bodies on central and regional levels.

The government authorities considered the authorized opposition rally on 4 June in Baku as an indication of respect to freedom of peaceful assembly during the election period. The rally which was peaceful and without any interference was held as continuation of the previous efforts for holding protest demonstration on 21 May. The executive bodies of Baku explained the reason why they had not permitted to 21 May rally that this rally could interfere with the preparation events on the occasion of the opening ceremony of Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. When the opposition attempted to hold the rally the security forces used force and several persons including journalists were beaten.

Other interlocutors presented the contrasting opinions of the authorities and most of the political parties and expressed their concerns to the REM. According to them little was done for removing the previous deficiencies. The concerns are mainly about the conducts of the government authorities; however, there are opinions on some opposition parties not taking full responsibility for constructive role in the election process.

The election campaign does not start officially till 60 days left for the Election Day. The main thing in the campaign can be transparency and the fairness of the election process. Despite of the existence of various political parties the political environment is concentrated on dominating New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), and several opposition parties including some parties which formed blocs before the election. The two most well-known opposition blocs are  “Azadlig” ( formed by PFPA (i) , Musavat and ADP) and Yeni Siyaset (New Policy: formed by National Union Movement, ANIP , CFFA, ASDP as well as other political parties and NGOs).

As well as usually accepted of pro-government candidates in great number are supposed to take part in the elections. Opposition, also interlocutors from the international community noted to putting limitation to opposition activities over   the whole country. Elections, as well as conflict ongoing with Armenia and occupying 20% of Azerbaijan territory, will be held on the background of it.  This situation has led to existence of a great number of internally displaced persons (according to the state calculations about 800000 persons) and this causes extra obstacle for holding of elections.

Though the limited amendments in media since 2003 presidential elections the voters’ getting fair information or from different information sources remains being limited. Besides, lower professional standards in Azerbaijan have been a form making difficult for the voters to get fair and right information. TV is a source the majority of people take information through it. Public television is expected to be broadcasted before the campaign launches. Director of PTV which is met by opposition and series of NGOs in rejection, assured the Requirements Estimating Mission+ that for all the candidates of the campaign will be covered in equal and air form. In spite of this, whether PTV will cover the campaign in efficient and balanced form is indefinite yet.
REM was informed about the TV channels not getting license in the last three years .The government organs informed representative on media freedom of OSCE that new licenses will not be given before the elections.

The press media has limited spreading; however, there are journals and papers printing information contrary to the existing governmental organs. At the same time, they are sometimes forced to work under pressure and claims about printing, distribution and aspersion. The murder of famous oppositionist journalist Elmar Huseynov dated March 2005 give rise to anxiety on the journalists’ ability to spread and print information in the liberal form.

Taking into consideration the declarations on the political will, the political party system, existence of some degree of pluralism in the media and providing the large support to the observation mission, though the obstacles OSCE/ODIHR was faced in efficiently holding of the election observation mission (EOM), it recommends EOM to be created for observing the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. OSCE/ODIHR will be forced to reconsider its position in case if there is no significant progress in comparison with the previous elections or EOM is limited in observation of the important elements of the election process.

OSCE/ODIHR recommends EOM to be created 60 days left to the Election Day, from the day the election campaign begins. According to the Copenhagen Document of 1990, EOM will hold the monitoring on following the election process on the basis of the OSCE commitments and internal laws for the democratic elections. In addition to the main expert group, 28 long-term observers being grouped in 14 groups each to contain 2 persons to be sent on an official trip to Azerbaijan at the end of September will also be included in the mission. Taking into consideration the content of the previous elections and existence of hard environment for holding EOM, it is considered important 500 short-time observers to be sent on the official trip for following the procedures of the Election Day. OSCE/ODIHR reviewing one or two experts’ being sent on the official journey primarily for observing the process of registration of the candidates.

URL: http://www.today.az/news/politics/19691.html

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