DRAFT FINAL OPINION ON AMENDMENTS TO ELECTION CODE OF AZERBAIJAN BY VENICE COMMISSION, OSCE/ODIHR

The OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission are of the opinion that, since the remaining recommendations of 2003, 2004 and 2005 have not been duly taken into consideration, the examined law does not fully meet OSCE commitments and Council of Europe standards for democratic elections, according to the draft final opinion on amendments to the Elections Code of Azerbaijan by the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR.

The Venice Commission noted that the amendments were insufficient to develop the necessary public confidence in the electoral legislation and practice in Azerbaijan.

Along with mostly technical changes, only a limited number of substantial amendments have been adopted in response to the 2003 and 2004 joint recommendations and 2005 Interim opinion of OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission.

В"Unfortunately, the most important suggestions have not been implemented by the authorities of Azerbaijan in spite of the repeated recommendations from the Parliamentary Assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe,” the draft document underlined.

The adopted amendments to the Election Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan must be considered in the context of previous assessments of this Election Code by the Venice

Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR. The four most recent and most important documents include the Final Report of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission for the2003 Presidential election.

Although some of the amendments are in line with international standards and a numberof them even follow previous recommendations by the Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR, this cannot lead to the conclusion that the Election Code of Azerbaijan is satisfactory after the amendments of 26 June 2005.

According to some sources the authorities changed the rules and lowered registration fees, but neither the

OSCE/ODIHR nor the Venice Commission have any official confirmation of such changes, the draft opinion states.

The amendments to the Election Code adopted by the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan on 26 June 2005 should be considered as a result of consideration of the VC recommendations.

The draft opinion was developed by By the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR on the basis of comments by Rumen Maleev, OSCE/ODIHR, Expert, Bulgaria, Georg Nolte, Venice Commission, Substitute Member, Germany, and Peter Paczolay, Venice Commission, Substitute Member, Hungary.

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