|IN THE SPOTLIGHT|
ODIHR still waiting for invitation to monitor Presidential elections in Azerbaijan
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has yet to receive a formal invitation from the Azerbaijani Government to observe the October presidential elections in the country.
On the 21st of June President Ilham Aliyev said while on an official visit in Brussels that “Azerbaijan will invite international observers from Europe and European institutions” and will provide the condition for all presidential candidates to present their programmes freely during the campaign. As he spoke however his government had not yet issued an invitation to ODIHR who would by now have expected to receive it. Mr Barroso, the head of the European Commission, had expressly noted that the EU hopes that ODIHR will be invited to observe the elections. Meanwhile as ODIHR waits for the call it successfully sent in June a ‘pre-election needs assessment mission’ to Azerbaijan to prepare for its observation activities in October. For this it did not need a formal invitation but merely had the Azerbaijani authorities to accept the mission in their country.
Meanwhile in Azerbaijan opposition groups had set up a “National Council of Democratic Forces” which is to nominate a common candidate to run in the election. The coalition pledges to use peaceful means to establish democracy in the country and calls for a release of political prisoners and respect for freedom of speech as well as a reform of election legislation in line with ODIHR recommendations. The opposition groups also want vote counting and recording of the number of votes cast to be strictly monitored by observers and international organizations to organize exit polls during the voting.
Written by Krzysztof Bobinski