Venice Commission Proposes Azerbaijan to Replace Chairmen of Election Commissions

Politics Materials 9 April 2008 19:32 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 9 April / corr. Trend K. Ramazanova, S. Ilhamgizi/ The experts of Venice Commission of Council of Europe believe that it is preferable to appoint the representatives of various political parties as chairmen of election commissions in Azerbaijan.

"The commissions should not be led by pro-government forces, the Venice Commission proposals say," Sergey Kuznetsov, the representative of Venice Commission said on a telephone from Strasbourg on 9 April.

The Venice Commission of Council of Europe, OSCE and Azerbaijani government held discussions on changes and amendments to the Election Code of Azerbaijan prior to 2008 presidential elections.

According to Venice Commission proposals, the commissions should be more independent in order to strengthen voters' confidence in them.

The Central Election Commission appoints the chairmen of constituencies and divisional election committees. According to Venice Commission, appointment of members of various political parties as chairmen of election commissions can strengthen the confidence in them.

"The last presidential elections in Azerbaijan showed that the Election Code gives large power to the chairmen of election commissions," the document said.

The Venice Commission proposes to make changes to the composition of Central Election Commission (CEC), constituencies and divisional election committees which is the key reason for disagreements in Azerbaijani opposition. The opposition believes that the composition of election commissions should be formed on equal basis between opposition and government. According to opposition leaders, the current composition of commissions is under the government influence.

Azerbaijan is proposed to improve the procedure of nominating of candidates and appointment of all members of commissions. "The members of commissions should not be elected to 5 year term, they should work only during the elections. It will lessen the expenditures for elections," said the Venice Commission.

The Commission experts believe that problem of voting of refugees and displaced people from occupied territory of Azerbaijan should be addressed.

Furthermore, the decisions by the commissions should be adopted by two thirds quorum.

The Election code should enable voters to submit a petition on behalf of more than one candidate in presidential elections as in case of parliament.

The registration process of candidates should be improved. "The ground for denying registration to a candidate should be determined in the Election Code. Those denied registration should get a document on reasons for denial of registration in order to take a matte to court," the document said.

The proposal on changes to Election Code of Azerbaijan has been included into the final report of OSCE Bureau for Democratic Institutes and Human Rights after 2003 presidential elections.

The Venice Commission believes that there is a need to decrease the number of supporters (45,000) for registration of presidential candidates. The document also states that the checks on adequacy of signature takes a lot of time and provides conditions for abuses.

The experts are sure that the financing of elections is very complicated process.

The Commission calls on Azerbaijan to consider sanctions in the Election Code.

The Venice Commission believes that the Election Code of Azerbaijan is very complicated especially in item on registration of candidates, developing the list of those possessing the right of holding election campaign, and financing of election campaign.

Latif Huseynov, the representative of Azerbaijan in Venice Commission said to Trend that the Commission can not take into consideration the proposals of opposition while developing recommendations. "Venice Commission can consider only proposals of official bodies," Huseynov said.

He said that the proposals of Venice Commission are being considered at present by the Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan.

"The recommendations of Venice Commission can not be obligatory as they are meant to help the governments. If the government does not consider these recommendations positive for the statehood, they have a right not to accept them," Huseynov said.

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