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International observers question Azerbaijan vote results

AFP  |  Baku 

Azerbaijan's snap parliamentary polls have been marred by significant violations, international observers said Monday, after the ruling party swept to victory.

"Significant procedural violations during counting and the tabulation raised concerns whether the results were established honestly," observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe said in a joint report, also denouncing numerous voting irregularities.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev's party won a majority in Sunday's election but the opposition claimed it was "totally falsified".

The sole opposition politician who made it to the new legislature was Erkin Gadirly of Republican Alternative Party (ReAl). All other parties represented in the parliament, the Milli Majlis, are seen as pro-Aliyev.

The Musavat opposition party demanded that the result of the vote be annulled and fresh polls held.

Counting showed the Yeni (New) Azerbaijan party with 65 seats in the 125-member parliament, after 87 percent of electoral precincts declared results in the first-past-the-post ballot, said central election commission chief Mazahir Panahov.

International observers said restrictive legislation and the political environment prevented genuine competition in Sunday's vote.

They also criticised numerous instances of ballot stuffing and multiple voting, pressure on voters, candidates, and observers as well as the absence of campaign coverage in mainstream media.

The ruling party had promised a democratic election, but opposition parties accused the government of limiting their ability to campaign and several parties boycotted the vote.

Faced with public discontent over a slowing economy, Aliyev, 58, hoped to boost the government's image by holding early elections and replacing discredited old elites with younger technocrats.

None of the elections held in Azerbaijan since Aliyev came to power in 2003 have been recognised as free and fair by international observers.

Under the Aliyev dynasty, Baku has faced strong international criticism for persecuting political opponents and suffocating independent media.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 10 2020. 18:02 IST