Restrictions imposed by Azerbaijan compel cancellation of parliamentary election observation mission, says ODIHR Director Link

WARSAW, 11 September 2015 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), announced today that, due to restrictions imposed by the Azerbaijani authorities, ODIHR has no choice but to cancel its mission to observe the country’s 1 November parliamentary elections.

“The restriction on the number of observers taking part would make it impossible for the mission to carry out effective and credible election observation,” the ODIHR Director said. “Regretfully, we are compelled by these actions to cancel the deployment of ODIHR’s observation mission for the parliamentary elections.”

“The Azerbaijani authorities’ insistence on a restricted number of observers is directly counter to the country’s OSCE commitments and in contradiction to ODIHR’s election observation mandate,” he added.

Azerbaijan, as all OSCE participating States, has committed to inviting international observers for its elections, as well as to ensuring utmost attention to the independence, impartiality and professionalism of ODIHR election observation. Following the receipt of an invitation from the Azerbaijani authorities, an ODIHR needs assessment mission sent to the country recommended the deployment of an election observation mission, including a core team of experts, 30 long-term observers and 350 short-term observers.

In a 31 August communication, Azerbaijan’s Permanent Mission to the OSCE stated that the authorities were ready to accept only 6 long-term and up to 125 short-term ODIHR observers. The decision to cancel the deployment was only taken after a further communication, received late yesterday from the Azerbaijani Permanent Mission, reiterated these limitations.

Within its mandate, ODIHR remains ready to provide assistance to Azerbaijan in the implementation of its election-related and other OSCE human dimension commitments, Director Link underlined.

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