Poll Observers Report Irregularities in Azerbaijan Presidential Election

Ilham Aliyev’s expected win in Azerbaijan election

Ilham Aliyev wins expected landslide victory

Election observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have raised “serious questions” about the validity of Azerbaijan’s presidential election, which saw incumbent Ilham Aliyev secure a fifth term with more than 90 percent of the vote.

The election was “not competitive” and “was held in a restrictive environment”, OSCE monitors told a news conference in the capital, Baku, on Thursday, a day after the poll. They said that “recent arrests of critical journalists have hindered the media from operating freely”.

With more than 93 percent of the ballots counted, Aliyev secured more than 92 percent of votes, the head of the Central Election Commission, Mazahir Panahov, said on Thursday.

“While six other candidates participated in the campaign, none of them convincingly challenged the incumbent president’s policies in their campaigns, leaving voters without any genuine alternative,” the monitors said.

The OSCE noted “issues of secrecy of the vote, a lack of safeguards against multiple voting, indications of ballot stuffing”, raising “serious questions about whether ballots were counted and reported honestly”.

“While preparations for the election were efficient and professional, it lacked genuine pluralism and critical voices were continuously stifled,” the observers said.

Aliyev, 62, who has been in power for more than 20 years, is now heading into another seven-year term in office.

He was first elected president in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

He was re-elected in 2008, 2013 and most recently in 2018 with 86 percent of the votes. All the elections were denounced by opposition parties as rigged.

He called an early vote just months after his forces swiftly reclaimed the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh enclave from ethnic Armenian separatists who had controlled it for three decades.

Leaders, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered congratulations.

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