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Campaigning Begins For Azerbaijan's Municipal Elections

Municipal campaign posters in Baku
Municipal campaign posters in Baku
BAKU -- Campaigning for municipal elections in Azerbaijan has officially begun, with 18 parties and some 31,000 candidates registered to compete, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) said that campaigning for the December 23 elections began on November 25 and the majority of the registered candidates are affiliated with one party -- the governing Yeni Azerbaycan Party (YAP -- New Azerbaijan).

Additionally, YAP said it was given the opportunity to advertise on television for free, but YAP Executive Secretary Ali Ahmadov told the media that it has refused that offer.

Ahmadov added that YAP plans to campaign more in the regions than in urban areas.

Some candidates from opposition parties have reported being pressured by local police and others when they were registering for the elections.

CEC chief Mazahir Panahov said that some 500 polling stations will be equipped with cameras that will be available to viewers online.

Azerbaijan has never held an election that was judged free and fair by international observers.