5 March, 2015 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 11/05/2005
AZERBAIJAN
Azerbaijan vote set to be democracy test

An election campaign marred by several human rights abuses closed yesterday. The international community, especially neighbouring Asian states, is paying close attention: the oil-rich country enjoys an important strategic position from a geopolitical perspective.



Baku (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Tomorrow Azerbaijan goes the polls to renew its parliament, under pressure from the international community and human rights organizations to ensure a democratic and correct popular consultation.  The country's democracy and 125 National Assembly (Milli Meclis) seats are up for grabs. But more is at stake. Azerbaijan, with its eight million residents, bordering Russia and Iran, is a crucially important state from a geopolitical viewpoint, apart from being a veritable natural oil reserve. These factors serve to draw the attention of the United States, China and Russia, all contending for this area of influence.

Candidates number 1,598: around half are contesting as "independent' and the others are spread over 48 parties. However, competition appears to be narrowed down between the Yeni Azerbaycan Party (Yap) of the president Ilham Aliyev and the Azadliq block, an alliance of three major opposition parties: the reformists of the Popular Front, the Democratic Party and the Musavat. The 

YAP garnered 10 out of 125 seats in the 2000 election which, according to unanimous expert opinion, were riddled with systematic gerrymandering.

During the election campaign, observers lamented repeated violations of freedom of broadcasting with beatings, threats and arrests of opposition activists, refusal to grant authorization to hold manifestations in Baku and police charges against unauthorized marches. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said public television dedicated around 97% of its electoral coverage time to the majority party in government and to the president, which also enjoy the favour of the press. Holly Carter, director of the Europe and central Asia division of the monitoring organization Human Rights Watch, said: "The government does not want free and fair elections". Yesterday, the last day of the election campaign, only the party in government was allowed to hold a public manifestation, while the Azadliq block was refused permission.

Rasul Quliyev, opposition leader in exile since 1996 and parliament candidate, sought to return: on 17 October, finding out that he would be greeted at the airport by military men waiting to arrest him as soon as he returned, he retreated. Government ministers have been arrested (including the former Health Minister Ali Insanov, considered the fourth richest man in the country), as well as public officials and businessmen accused of plotting to pull off a coup d'etat together with Quliyev.

OSCE observers will monitor regularity of the polls; they have already managed to secure some changes to the electoral law, like the introduction of indelible ink to mark the fingers of those who have already voted.

The party in government is tipped to win, but surprises are not excluded. Discontent among the people is high: according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), half the population lives in poverty, corruption is widespread and the problem of more than 500,000 refugees who escaped from Nagorno-Karabakh remains unresolved. However President Aliyev is very popular and many say he can count on the "power" of oil. The state has set up an oleoduct from Baku to Tbilisi and the Turkish port of Ceyhan, which will start operating within the year. Thanks to the oil, public revenue is set to shoot up by 128% between 2006 and 2009.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
10/08/2004 AFGHANISTAN
Afghanistan on the eve of presidential election, a country eager for life, peace and change
by Marta Allevato
07/05/2004 AZERBAIJAN
Government Shuts down Djuma Mosque Now Slated to Be a Carpet Museum
08/28/2009 UZBEKISTAN
HRW, Uzbek poet and dissident victim of abuse in prison
08/01/2008 AZERBAIJAN
Police use false evidence to arrest Baptist pastor
07/05/2004 INDONESIA
Keep Political-Economic Reforms on the Right Track
by Mathias Hariyadi

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.