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Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) and Volunteers International Cooperation Public Union (VIC) conducted long term observation of the first stage of the 9 October 2013 Presidential Elections (10 August – 14 September) of the Republic of Azerbaijan. The monitoring of this stage, which included the pre-election environment and process of nomination and registration of candidates, was carried out in 89 election constituencies and nationwide. Information reflected in this report is collected from 32 long-term observers, presidential candidates and their campaign headquarters, members of election commissions and voters and verified by both organizations.

Despite some technical improvements in the process of preparation to the elections, observers noted abuse of administrative resources and lack of improvement with regard to pre-election environment. EMDS and VIC note with concern that legal framework stipulated by the current Election Code and situation of political freedoms prior to the elections, particularly freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, create more restricted pre-election environment in comparison with previous elections.

The process of nomination and registration of candidates started on 10 August and completed on 9 September. According to the CEC’s information for 13 September, 21 persons received signature collection forms and 14 of them submitted forms. 10 candidates submitting signature collection forms were registered as presidential candidate by the CEC, while 4 persons were refused registration.

During the process of signature collection in favor of presidential candidates, violations occurred in previous elections were recorded again. The organizations received credible information about abuse of administrative resources, mainly in favor of candidate of ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP).

Moreover, Identification Documents (IDs) of citizens working at organizations funded from state budget were collected and used for signature collection in favor of certain candidates against citizens’ will.

Furthermore, in some cases, media, observers, presidential candidates and their authorized representatives were denied access to the process of verification of collected signatures at the CEC. EMDS and VIC note with regret that participation of candidates and their representative were not ensured during the verification process of collected signatures in cases of Ilgar Mammadov, Sardar Mammadov, Ahmad Oruj and Ali Aliyev.

Observers also documented repeated violations of attendance and transparency in functioning of Precinct and Constituency Election Commissions.

The full report is available here: PDF

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