Baku/29.12.23/Turan: The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has announced the start of its observer mission to the 7 February snap Presidential elections in Azerbaijan.
Head of the OSCE/ODIHR's observation mission Eoghan Murphy (Ireland) told a press conference in Baku on 29 December that the mission will monitor the election campaign, the voting process and the tabulation of election results for 8 weeks.
The mission consists of 11 international experts. Besides, the election campaign and elections will be monitored by 26 long-term observers who will arrive on 3 January. They will cover all regions of Azerbaijan, including the capital Baku. Two long-term observers will be sent to each region.
In addition, Murphy said, the ODIHR has sent requests to OSCE participating states to send 280 more short-term observers to monitor election day.
The mission will monitor the practical application of the election legislation, the training and education of election administrations, candidate registration, the election campaign, the media environment, media coverage of elections, and women's participation in elections. An interim report will be made public two weeks before the elections. The mission will release a preliminary report the day after the vote, and a final report with recommendations will be distributed a few months after the elections.
"We are not interested in the election results, we are assessing the election process for compliance with OSCE standards and international commitments," Owen said.
He refrained from commenting on statements by opposition representatives about the impossibility of holding democratic elections amid the crackdown and the arrests of 10 journalists, citing the fact that the mission had just begun its work.
Owen said that the mission would hold meetings and listen to "all interested parties."
He recalled, however, that the OSCE ODIHR election needs assessment mission had previously circulated a report on its observations.
Asked by Turan whether there has been progress in implementing the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR mission since the previous Presidential election and to what extent this will be taken into account in the assessment of the current campaign, Owen said that the interim report will also include an assessment of the implementation of the recommendations.
The final report on the 2018 snap Presidential elections noted that the formula for appointing election commissions does not provide for impartial election administration in practice. It was therefore recommended that the composition of the electoral commissions be reviewed to enhance their impartiality and public confidence in their work.
Decriminalisation of defamation and libel, including in online content, was also among the priority recommendations.
A snap Presidential elections is scheduled for 7 February.
The opposition "Musavat" Party refused to participate in the elections, claiming that there are no conditions for fair political competition. The Party of the People's Front of Azerbaijan has announced a boycott of the elections for the same reason. -06В-