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OSCE Decries Azerbaijan's Presidential Election as Unaligned with Democratic Standards; Aliyev Takes the Win

Updated: Apr 18


OSCE Decries Azerbaijan's Presidential Election as Unaligned with Democratic Standards; Aliyev Takes the Win

Azerbaijan held a snap presidential election, stirring controversy both within and beyond its borders. The election, held on February 7, featured seven candidates, with incumbent President Ilham Aliyev as the clear front-runner.


1. Election Day Drama Unfolds


The electoral process kicked off with the opening of polling stations across the country, as reported by local media. 


Many people and officials decided to boycott the election, citing concerns about its legitimacy. The government's assertion of a democratic process clashed with the opposition's skepticism, setting the stage for a tense political atmosphere.


2. Unusual Voting Locations Raise Eyebrows


One of the most peculiar moments of the election was President Ilham Aliyev casting his vote in Stepanakert, the capital of Azerbaijani-occupied Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh. Critics argue that this move, taking place after the recent occupation and de-Armenianization of the region, carries symbolic weight and highlights the ongoing hatred and Armenophobia against Armenians.  


Seven candidates contested for the presidency, with Aliyev facing nominal opposition from self-nominated candidates and representatives of various political parties.


3. Allegations of Election Irregularities Surface


As the day progressed, reports of election irregularities and violations emerged. Independent media outlets in Azerbaijan sounded the alarm about cases of re-voting and "merry-go-round" voting, involving students casting multiple votes at different polling stations. Observers questioned the logistics of such occurrences, pointing out the lack of scrutiny on this peculiar phenomenon.


4. International Observers Deem Election Lacking in Pluralism


A joint observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) delivered a critical assessment of the electoral process. They highlighted a lack of genuine political alternatives, restrictions on freedom of expression, and a stifled media environment, raising concerns about the democratic standards of the election.


5. Victory for Aliyev


In a press conference, the Chairman of the Central Election Commission, Mazahir Panahov, announced preliminary results indicating President Ilham Aliyev's landslide victory. With over 92% of the votes, Aliyev secured a dominant position, overshadowing the meager percentages garnered by the other candidates.


Conclusion


Azerbaijan's snap presidential election, while presenting itself as a democratic exercise, has left many questioning the integrity of the process. The opposition's boycott, allegations of irregularities, and the international observers' criticism all contribute to a narrative that challenges the proclaimed fairness of the election. As Azerbaijan moves forward under President Aliyev's extended leadership, the aftermath of this controversial election is likely to shape the nation's political landscape for years to come.

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