BAKU -- Azerbaijan has announced it is quitting the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) after the organization suspended the oil-rich Caspian country's membership over concerns about the government's treatment of critics and civil-society groups.
The executive director of Azerbaijan's State Oil Fund, Sahmar Movsumov, said on March 10 that the EITI's decision was "unfair."
He said Azerbaijan was withdrawing from the organization, which is backed by governments, corporations, and financial institutions and aims to promote the open and accountable management of natural resources.
The EITI announced Azerbaijan's suspension on March 9 at a meeting in Bogota, Colombia.
It said Azerbaijan "lacks an enabling environment for civil society, a violation of the initiative’s requirements on multistakeholder engagement," and gave Baku a July deadline to improve the situation.
The EITI called on President Ilham Aliyev's government to liberalize legislation defining registration of NGOs and to release political prisoners.