Interview with the chairman of the Central Elections Commission (CEC), Mazahir Panahov
Question: Is the process on clarification of electorsвЂ™ list held by the CEC complete. Was the electorsвЂ™ list on Khankandi constituency compiled?
Answer: List of electors, who are Azerbaijani by origin, in the Khankandi constituency has been compiled. However, the list of citizens, Armenian by origin, is still to be compiled. Even unless the list of clarified, the results of elections on Khankandi constituency will be considered as adopted, because there no quorum on number of electors in the Azerbaijani legislation. So, the participation of electors, Azerbaijanis by origin, in the elections will be enough to consider the results of voting as legal. The international organizations also gave positive estimation to the establishment of the Khankandi constituency. An interim report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission (EOM) to the Republic of Azerbaijan Parliamentary Elections in particular stressed the issue.
Question: The document also contains some notes in connection with the pre-election processes in Azerbaijan. How do you estimate the interim report by the OSCE/ODIHR and EOM?
Answer: The report is normal and balanced, while there are some milestones which I canвЂ™t agree with. I think they take wrong position in connection with participation of religious leaders. The precinct elections commissions did not register the candidacy of the head of religious Jewish community, Mr. Zelmanovich, as the Constitution of Azerbaijan bans the election of religious leaders to the parliament. The OSCE tries to make suspicious that Zelmanovich is a religious leader. However, he himself indicted his official position in the document submitted to the precinct elections commission as the head of the Jewish religious community. The head of the religious community is a clerical leader, so the precinct elections commission did not register his candidacy and the CEC maintained the resolution in force. OSCE makes notes in this respect, while IвЂ™m sure there is no ground for dissatisfaction. Besides, there are notes in connection with the cancellation of the candidacy of the chairman of the Islamic Party, Hajiaga Nuri. There is no any restriction in the registration of the political parties in Azerbaijan in respect to their religious activities. To my mind, such notes included in the report do not correspond to reality as well. The rest can be somehow accepted. As of general estimation, the pre-elections developments go on well. The international organizations, in particular, their observation missions do not consider as necessary to mark the satisfactory peculiarities of the situation. They mainly note and inform about the shortcomings. As it seems, no serious shortcomings were indicated in the report.
Question: How many international observers will observe the elections?
Over 100 international observers have been registered thus far. Their total number attains even 1000 people. Vladimir Rushaylo, the chairman of the CIS Executive Committee, will pay a visit to Baku on 5 October with his delegation. The mission of observers plans to hold meetings with the leadership of the CEC and discuss the pre-elections processes. I guest the CIS mission will be satisfied with the current stage of elections and work done by the CEC thus far for holding elections.
Question: How do you estimate the process of electioneering?
Answer: I think this stage develops quite normally. We should not lose from sight the number of candidates to participate in the elections is quite high. Over 2,000 candidates ballot for deputy mandate. So, it would not be real to name everything as ideal and urge that all candidates will behave correctly. In some cases they lay accusation on each other. As a chairman of the CEC, I would like not to see such facts. Some candidates even come out against the statehood, which is also unacceptable.
Question: Some complaints are made on the heads of the Executive Powers, state officers, involved in the elections process. Some candidates, abusing their better financial status, try to attract the voters. Does the CEC take relevant steps in regard to such people?
Answer: We studied some complaints and revealed that they did not correspond to reality. Some problems sometimes are exaggerated. In case the complaints do not correspond to reality, people who commit law-breaks are warned. The CEC takes steps in accordance with the law. The candidacy of those who made serious violations can be disqualified in the end. .
Question: When will the results of the investigation into cases of candidate with previous accusations be publicized?
Answer: the CE secretaries are seriously involved in it. As a result we will define how legal the registration of the candidates is. In general, 10 candidates are suspected to have such accusations. Shortly, the court will provide the reply and the CEC will take a final resolution. If any law-break is revealed, the candidate will be immediately disqualified. The results will be publicized late this week.
Question: The opposition parties and blocs are anew going to appeal to the CEC with request to combine the free air time allocated them. Could the proposal be implemented?
Answer: No, the proposal fully contradicts the legislation. Even if the CEC wants, it cannot do it. So, the CEC did not consider the appeal. The CEC secretaries explained it with irrelevance of such proposals with their competency. The CEC Secretary, Vidadi Mahmudov, held talks with the applicants. As to their dissatisfaction with the duration of air time, it concerns only the free air time. The candidates can use the paid air time as much as they want. AzTV and the Public TV offer better conditions for candidates. I guess, there is no ground for dissatisfaction.
Question: Were the shortages in covering the elections removed after the CECвЂ�s appeal to media?
- Yes, the TV channels have fully observed the law and the process of covering of the elections develops normally. The mistakes made earlier are also eliminated.