The United States has urged Azerbaijan to take "bold steps to improve the political environment" ahead of the country's presidential election in October.
Thomas Melia, the deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor, said facilitating free and fair elections "doesn't take place on election day, but throughout these next several months."
Melia was speaking at a U.S. Helsinki Commission hearing on Azerbaijan on July 16 alongside Azerbaijani opposition figures and government officials.
He said things Azerbaijan "could do tomorrow" include releasing detained opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov, registering the EMDS election monitoring organization, and keeping promises to invite election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Azerbaijani ruling party lawmaker Samad Seyidov warned against prejudging the election.
He cited new unity among the opposition as proof of the government's commitment to plurality.