Changes to Election Code Not Satisfactory- Azerbaijani Opposition Leader
Azerbaijan, Baku, 23 May / corr. Trend E. Babayev/ The chairman of the oppositional Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (NPFP) considers that it is pointless to participate in the presidential elections after changes are made into the Election Code. "We expected changes into the Election Code would create favorable democratic conditions. On the contrary, the changes into the Elections Code aim at consigning election reforms to oblivion," Ali Karimli, the chairman of NPFP and co-chairman of Azadlig bloc said to media on 22 May.
The additions and changes to the Election Code will be discussed in the Azerbaijani parliament at the late May. The draft on the changes includes ban on the canvassing in the state-owned media sources, and rise in the deposit account of the candidates from AZN33,000 to AZN300,000. The terms for the signature collection has been shortened from 35 days up to 10 days, cancellation of candidate's registration was eased as a result of the changes to the Code of Administrative Violations. These changes have caused discontent in the opposition.
The proposals of the Opposition on setting up of election commissions on the equal basis were not indicated in the changes.
The Popular Front Party, Liberal Party and Citizens and Development, which are united in Azadlig bloc, will boycott the presidential elections.
The chairman of the Central Election Commission of Azerbaijan Mazahir Panahov said on 20 May that a person, who will not be able to collect 45,000 signatures during 10 days from the 5mln voters of Azerbaijan, does not have a moral right to pretend the post of the head of state.
The changes and additions were infused into the Election Code after joint discussions between the Azerbaijan government and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
According to Karimli, Azadlig bloc will adopt a final decision to take part in the elections after changes to the Election Code are approved in the parliament. "Our position is that the presidential elections should be boycotted if the democratic atmosphere is not created," Karimli said.
Mubariz Gurbanli, the deputy executive secretary of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party said to Trend that the opposition catches at all different excuse not to take part in the elections, because it knows beforehand that it will lose the elections.
The presidential elections will be held in Azerbaijan on 15 October 2008.
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