Thursday, October 10, 2013

Observers Find Violations at 'All Stages' of Azerbaijan Elections

International observers have criticized “serious” and “overwhelming” violations during Wednesday presidential elections in oil-rich Azerbaijan that resulted in a landslide win for autocratic incumbent Ilham Aliyev. Observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe identified voter intimidation, a restrictive media environment during the election campaign and violations at all stages of the voting process in a preliminary report on the elections released Thursday. The former Soviet nation’s Central Elections Commission gave Aliyev, 51, who succeeded his father as leader of Azerbaijan in 2003, almost 85 percent of the vote in preliminary results. His closest rival, opposition candidate and prominent academic Camil Hasanli, managed just 5.18 percent. “Significant problems were observed throughout all stages of election day processes,” the OSCE report said. “Counting was assessed in overwhelmingly negative terms, with 58 percent of observed polling stations assessed as bad or very bad, indicating serious problems.” The OSCE also criticized the lack of a level playing field for the 10 officially registered candidates, noting “the restrictive legal framework and disproportionate coverage of the incumbent President.”

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