Helsinki Commission of US Congress calls on Azerbaijan's authorities to ensure democratic presidential election
On July 16, the Commission in the US Congress for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the US Helsinki Commission) discussed the situation with democracy in Azerbaijan on the eve of the upcoming presidential election in the country. Following the results of the hearings "Restless partner: growing authoritarianism in Azerbaijan", the Commission has called on the Azerbaijan's authorities to fulfil their obligations in the field of human rights for the holding of free and democratic election.
Representatives of the Azerbaijan's authorities and the Azerbaijani opposition were invited to attend the hearings.
Eldar Namazov, the head of the executive office the National Council of Democratic Forces (NCDF) and the leader of the movement "EL" (People), has called on the international community to pay more attention to the election in Azerbaijan, to send as many international observers as possible, and to promote conducting of independent exit polls to ensure that the election were not, according to his phrase, "falsified like all previous ones".
Thomas Melia, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, called on the Azerbaijan's authorities to fulfil their promises: to invite observers from the OSCE to attend the election, to release political prisoners, including Elgar Mamedov, the leader of the movement "Republican Alternative" (ReAl), to investigate human rights violations, and to promote real dialogue with the civil society.
The summary of the discussion was contained in the outcome document read by Paul Carter, Senior Advisor to the Helsinki Commission for the Department of State. Paul Carter has emphasized that Azerbaijan is at a crossroad: one path leads forward to democracy and economic prosperity of the people, and the other one leads to authoritarianism, corruption, economic stagnation and decline. Paul Carter has summed up that the presidential election scheduled for this autumn will be an important opportunity for Azerbaijan to make a choice.
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