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Armen Mirzoyan

OSCE Says Febuary 7 Azerbaijani Presidential Vote Stacked in Aliyev's Favor

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has described the February 7 Azerbaijani presidential election, that saw Ilham Aliyev reelected to a fifth seven-year term, as flawed given the “longstanding severe limitations on fundamental freedoms of association, expression and peaceful assembly both in law and in practice.”

The OSCE says such factors run contrary to standards for genuine democratic elections.

“The incumbent was not meaningfully challenged, and this combined with the shrinking space for independent media, civil society, and political parties, and strengthened powers of incumbency resulted in a contest devoid of genuine pluralism,” the OSCE writes.

The election was monitored by an OSCE observer mission and by one dispatched by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

The CIS observation mission announced that the snap presidential election was competitive and that Ilham Aliyev won due to his reputation.

Aliyev called for the snap presidential election following the total recapture of Nagorno Karabakh last September.

Aliyev declared that he wanted the election to “mark the beginning of a new era,” in which Azerbaijan has full control over its territory.

“Messages related to the restoration of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty and support for the President’s foreign policy dominated the campaign discourse,” the OSCE writes.

The OSCE also highlights the restrictions place on the Azerbaijani media and the recent round of arrests of critical journalists resulting in “nominal coverage of the contestants throughout the campaign” and “widespread self-censorship”.

Indications of ballot box stuffing and vote count irregularities were also reported by the OSCE election observers.

Despite these concerns, European Council President Charles Michel congratulated Aliyev on his reelection and welcomed “Azerbaijan’s commitment to resume the Brussels process trilateral meeting to advance a stable and prosperous South Caucasus.”

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