No threats to fair, democratic election in Azerbaijan - Bulgarian expert (UPDATE)

Details added (first version posted on 13:12)

Baku, Azerbaijan, March 29

By Ilhama Isabalayeva - Trend:

The pre-election situation in Azerbaijan is stable, and there are no threats to the electorate’s free expression of the will, as well as to holding fair and democratic election, Omurtag Petkov, a Bulgarian analyst invited by Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) to observe the presidential election to be held April 11 in Azerbaijan, said.

Petkov, who is also a delegation member of the Bulgarian GISDI “Civil Initiative for Free and Democratic Elections” non-governmental organization, made the remarks March 29 at a press conference in Baku referring to the results of observations conducted by the GISDI experts.

He added that the observation and studies conducted in the pre-election period by experts of the long-term observer mission of GISDI already make it possible to speak about some results.

He said that the analysis of legal documents regulating the electoral process in Azerbaijan gives grounds to say that the country has a legal framework that fully meets international standards and fully ensures holding of democratic election.

Observation of the work of the election administration makes it possible to positively assess its work, he noted.

“Constant work is being carried out with the voter lists, they are updated and specified,” he added. “Despite that not all candidates who failed to register have agreed with the decision of the CEC, the process of nominating and registering candidates as a whole can be assessed positively.’

“Monitoring of the media shows that media outlets in their articles give more credit to one of the candidates, the incumbent president,” Petkov said. “However, the content analysis of the articles showed that this is not due to Ilham Aliyev’s election campaign, but because of the coverage of his activities as the incumbent president.”

Petkov added that during the monitoring conducted so far there were no facts of serious violation of the electoral law or unequal conditions for the candidates.

“The right to freedom of assembly is ensured,” he said. “GISDI experts considered the issue of boycotting the election by some political forces and compared them with similar cases of 2008. GISDI experts believe that the pre-election conditions and the legislative base ensure holding of fair and democratic election. In general, GISDI states that Azerbaijan has the necessary conditions for holding democratic and fair election in line with international standards.”

The analyst also noted that GISDI organizes long-term and short-term delegations.

“As a result of observation and studies of the long-term observer mission, an interim report was prepared, the full text of which will be posted on the GISDI website on April 2,” he said. “The report includes observations of GISDI experts in several spheres. They include pre-election situation in Azerbaijan, legal framework and electoral administration, voter lists and registration, nomination and registration of presidential candidates, election campaign, media in the electoral process, complaints and appeals, observation of election on the election day, etc.”

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