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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > October
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 4, 2003


Azerbaijan Elections

2003/1008

The October 15 presidential elections in Azerbaijan are critical for Azerbaijan's democratic development. We have firmly stated our views to Azerbaijan's government and to the opposition. The Secretary discussed the elections with Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev on September 23 in New York, and the Deputy Secretary raised them with Prime Minister Aliyev on August 25 in Washington. The Government of Azerbaijan has said it is committed to fulfilling its OSCE obligations and meeting international election standards.

The U.S. is giving over $2 million to support free and fair elections, including funds for 150 international observers under the auspices of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE) and the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) to monitor the entry of vote tabulation protocols into the state computer system, complementing the OSCE election observer mission.

There are some positive developments. Election roundtables are being televised, NGO-funded training for election workers is under way and domestic election monitors are being credentialed. We call on the Government of Azerbaijan to follow through on its commitment to publicize the penalties for electoral fraud and to act promptly against instances of fraud.

There remain areas of concern including harassment and violence against opposition and human rights activists. We call on Azerbaijan to fulfill its responsibilities for the safety of its citizens and the safeguarding of their rights, including the right of assembly. We regret that the Central Election Commission did not publish voter lists, limiting the opportunity for voters to challenge or correct them. We urge Azerbaijan to invite the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to observe the election, with enough notice to field a proper observer team. We also hope to see the swift reporting and posting of the actual vote tally at polling stations, and on the Internet within 48 hours. Opposition parties also have important responsibilities in this election. They should campaign vigorously and conduct themselves peacefully, within the law and the norms of democratic process.

The United States will work with the Government of Azerbaijan, the opposition, and NGOs to help Azerbaijan hold an election that meets international standards. We call on all parties, in government and in opposition, to achieve this goal through a process that will serve the public interest.

Released on October 4, 2003

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