BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has vowed to thoroughly investigate all violations at voting stations during the parliamentary elections on February 9 after the Central Election Commission annulled results from four constituencies due to irregularities.
Speaking at a public event in the central city of Kurdamir on February 13, Aliyev admitted some violations took place, saying an assessment of the elections by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was "more objective than before, although we could not agree with some of their conclusions."
"We told [the OSCE] that all the violations that took place will be seriously investigated and those responsible for them will be punished and we will continue our cooperation with all international organizations.... We do not want any violations. We do not need them at all, because today, and I say this with full confidence, there is no alternative to our policies in Azerbaijan," Aliyev said.
The OSCE observers noted that the number of registered voters in more than half of the 125 constituencies deviated by more than allowed by the Electoral Code.
On February 12, New Azerbaijan Paarty Executive Secretary Ali Ahmedov said his party won at least 72 seats in parliament, while the election commission's preliminary results show the ruling party won 70 out of 125 seats in the single-chamber legislature.
Nearly all of the remaining mandates went to small parties and independents loyal to Aliyev.
The opposition has alleged widespread violations, including ballot-box stuffing and carousel voting, in the election.
On February 11, police in Baku detained more than 20 opposition and independent candidates who protested the results of the votes in front of the Central Election Commission's building.
Since Azerbaijan declared independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991, its elections have repeatedly been deemed as falling short of democratic standards by international observers from the OSCE and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Aliyev has ruled the energy-rich South Caucasus country of nearly 10 million people since shortly before the 2003 death of his father, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.