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OSCE: Azerbaijan Ignoring Election Advice

30 September 2005 (RFE/RL) - The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says in a report issued today that Azerbaijani authorities have ignored its recommendations to improve the legislative framework ahead of the 6 November parliamentary elections.

The report also claims authorities have staffed electoral commissions with supporters of the governing Yeni Azerbaycan Party (New Azerbaijan, or YAP).

The OSCE, which is observing the elections, insists that campaign rhetoric is often "heated and negative," reflecting a "polarized political atmosphere" in Azerbaijan.

The report is not entirely critical, however. It praises a May presidential decree in which President Ilham Aliyev acknowledged "mistakes and deficiencies" in the sphere of elections.

Also today, six candidates of the opposition Azadliq (Freedom) bloc launched a hunger strike to "press democratization of the pre-election situation."

One of the hunger strikers, Aydin Quliyev, told RFE/RL that a total of 116 opposition candidates will join the protest action on rotation, each time six people for three days.