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Azerbaijan Rejects International Criticism Of Elections

Paul Wille, right, of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and OSCE representative Wolfgang Grossruck at a press conference about the parliamnetary elections in Baku.
BAKU -- Azerbaijan has expressed dissatisfaction with U.S. criticism of Baku's parliamentary elections.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement made on November 9, said the State Department's views of the November 7 polls differed from that of international observers led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on November 8 said the elections did not meet international standards, and that Washington supported the observers' assessment that "the conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of the country.”

But the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said the international mission’s report did not include a clause on the elections not having met international standards.

"The international organizations’ document points out several shortcomings, however it stresses the elections were held in a peaceful atmosphere, all opposition parties participated in it and the voting process was positive in 90 percent of constituencies. It shows the elections have gained the people’s confidence," it said.

"The Azerbaijani government declares that holding democratic, fair and transparent elections is its target. Along with supporting the positive work done to this end, the Central Election Commission and relevant state bodies will take necessary steps to investigate some shortcomings."

On November 9, Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov received Janez Lenarcic, director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to discuss the elections.

The ministry press service said Mammadyarov told Lenarcic the monitors' joint statement comprised several contradictory statements.

"It is controversial that OSCE/ODIHR positively evaluates the voting process in 90 percent of constituencies, but also points out serious violations in the elections process."

The press service did not disclose Lenarcic's response.

In a joint statement issued on November 8, international observers expressed particular concern about restrictions of fundamental freedoms, media bias, the dominance of public life by one party, and serious violations on election day.

Loyalists of President Ilham Aliyev swept the board in the elections, which the opposition said were marred by massive fraud.