Azerbaijan is on threshold of historic event: election body chief
Azerbaijan is on the threshold of an historic event, chairman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Mazahir Panahov said at the opening ceremony of specialized courses on electoral law for the chairs of district election commissions that took place in the CEC.
Addressing the event, Panahov said the event is considered to be one of the high- level events conducted by the electoral body.
" Presidential elections, which are of great historical significance, will start soon. During the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan, there will be no problems regarding the implementation of the constitutional rights of citizens. Socio- political stability necessary to conduct elections is observed in the country," Panahov said.
He said further that political parties in the country operate in the context of pluralism and the media is free of control.
"The CEC is obliged to ensure that the elections are held at a high level," Panahov said.
The courses on electoral law conducted by the CEC aim to educate members of the lower election commissions in accordance with the " National Action Plan to improve the protection of human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan", approved by the December 2011 decree of the Azerbaijani President.
Speaking at the ceremony, Head of OSCE Baku Office Koray Targay said the steps taken for conducting high-level elections in Azerbaijan should be welcomed, but this is not enough yet.
According to him, President Ilham Aliyev's relevant orders have also created a conducive basis for this to be achieved.
" Free and fair elections are one of the important issues of social development," Targay added.
The presidential elections in Azerbaijan are scheduled for fall. The final decision on the date of the elections will be announced on August 2.
According to Targay, district election commissions have great responsibility. The OSCE, for its part, will continue to support the election commissions.
Targay went on to say that the increase of women's activity in the election process has special importance, and the OSCE Baku Office is working with the Presidential Administration and the CEC regarding this issue.
In his remarks, First ViceSpeaker of Azerbaijani Parliament Ziyafet Asgarov said the elections in Azerbaijan are free, and citizens decide whether or not they would go to the polls and that is their right, not an obligation.
Asgarov also provided information on electoral law and the electoral system concepts.
According to him, elections are the only way of coming to power, and the majority- of-votes (single- member) electoral system applied in Azerbaijan is the most appropriate one under the country's conditions.
" Under the proportional system, the voter is to vote in favor of all parties represented in the list. He is to vote not only for the person he would like to see in power, but also for the one not favored by him. The proportional system does not allow the voter to vote directly," Asgarov said.
Speaking at the event, chairman of the Azerbaijan Constitutional Court Farhad Abdullayev said it is necessary to make an effort for the number of pleas to the court in relation to the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan to be as small as possible.
Abdullayev said the courts receive a lot of pleas pertaining to the elections. Some of them are related to the improper organization of the electoral process and failures to defend voters' rights.
Abdullayev also said cases related to elections were reviewed at the Constitutional Court several times.
" Citizens should be aware that the court can immediately review their complaints. This is an important factor from the point of view of human rights and freedoms," he said.
" In these processes, we have to rely on our knowledge and make an effort to ensure fair elections," Abdullayev said.
Announcement of election results by the Constitutional Court is very important, Abdullayev said, adding that great progressive changes have been made in the CEC's activity.
Abdullayev said the CEC is closely cooperating with international bodies and keeps up with global electoral processes.
" Proper conduct of the election is a great opportunity to show the country to the world community from a positive point of view," the Constitutional Court chairman said.
Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Zeynal Nagdaliyev said the voting process could be observed by cameras at 10 percent of the polling stations during the last elections in Azerbaijan. According to the President's decision, this figure has been increased to 20 percent this year, Nagdaliyev said.
Nagdaliyev also said that according to the President's order, all the necessary conditions have been provided for the district election commissions' activity.
" Much better conditions will be created for the election commissions and the voters compared to the previous elections," he added. " The information signs should be brought into a proper shape for the voters to freely use them. It is forbidden to use these signs for other purposes. Relevant instructions have been issued to the local executive power bodies."
Nagdaliyev said further that some international organizations prepare false reports without considering the realities of Azerbaijan and being unaware of the country's legislation.
He said preparations for the election allow organizing the electoral campaign and the elections in the country at the highest level, and the poll will be in accordance with international standards.
"All conditions for the enforcement of the constitutional rights of people will be provided in the country," he said.
Nagdaliyev said the seminars for the chairmen of district election commissions of the CEC are aimed at ensuring high- level preparations for the elections.
He also said much work has been done to improve the campaigning and there will be no cases of sticking pictures on the walls, and special boards will be placed in accordance with the country's laws.
" Voter lists that are being prepared in Azerbaijan can serve as an example for many countries. For many years we have been trying to ensure that no voter stays out of the election," Nagdaliyev said.
In his remarks, Head of the Presidential Administration's social and political affairs department Ali Hasanov said sometimes the methodology employed by international organizations in any country for the evaluation of elections is implemented on the basis of other countries' interests.
" There are up to 100 nongovernmental organizations in the world that were created by the decision of U. S. Congress and receive up to $ 200 billion a year," Hasanov said. " Only the U. S. and the countries subjected to pressures of these NGOs are aware of the purpose of these financial allocations. In some cases, there is intervention into other countries' affairs, their legitimately elected presidents are displaced and the revenues of these countries are appropriated."
Hasanov also informed the participants of the event of the history and role of NGOs in the Azerbaijani society and said that whereas earlier the NGOs were financed strictly through the government, now they have become independent.
Currently there are more than 3,500 NGOs, which cover various fields of activity, he said.
Hasanov also spoke about the role of mass media and said that in order to maintain political pluralism in the country, the media should be independent.
" The activity of mass media comes down not only to the coverage of the CEC's work during the elections, but also ensuring the transparency of the entire process while covering the pre- election atmosphere. National Leader Heydar Aliyev abolished censorship over mass media in 1998 and since then they have been operating independently," he said.
According to Hasanov, political parties play a special role in the electoral system of Azerbaijan, serving as the guarantor of the existence of the state and democracy in the domestic and foreign policy.
Head of the Central Election Commission Mazahir Panahov adressed the opening ceremony of specialized courses on electoral law for the chairs of district election commissions.