October 11, 2013 - 10:26 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian commented on the Oct 9 presidential election in Azerbaijan and the State Department's assessment of the polls.
"The State Department says Azerbaijan's election 'fell short of international standards,' while, in truth, it didn't even come close," Hamparian said.
"This wasn't an election at all, but rather a poorly stage-managed spectacle, designed to provide some semblance of political cover for an international community that, sadly, long ago chose to stand aside as the Aliyevs consolidate their private ownership of Azerbaijan and push their one-family rule into a second half-century," he said.
Hamparian added, "The citizens of Azerbaijan - and their neighbors in Armenia and Artsakh - deserve better than a petro-monarchy that siphons off the nation's wealth, abuses its own citizens, is driving the region toward renewed war."
“The United States continuously urged the Government of Azerbaijan to ensure a free and fair electoral process and to respect the freedoms of assembly, association, and speech. It is with regret that we conclude this election fell short of international standards,” the State Department said in its assessment.
“The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly highlighted in their October 10 preliminary statement serious shortcomings that need to be addressed in order for Azerbaijan to fully meet its OSCE commitments. The United States agrees with this assessment and shares OSCE concerns. Other credible non-government organizations such as the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center reported similar shortcomings. On election day, procedural irregularities were observed including: 1) ballot box stuffing; 2) serious problems with vote counting; and 3) failure to record the number of received ballots. Leading up to election day, the Government of Azerbaijan also maintained a repressive political environment. Authorities interfered with the media and civil society routinely, sometimes violently interrupted peaceful rallies and meetings before and occasionally during the campaign period, and jailed a number of opposition and youth activists.”