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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
Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 21, 2003


Presidential Election in Azerbaijan

2003/1072

The United States is deeply disappointed and concerned that the October 15, 2003, presidential election in Azerbaijan failed to meet international standards. An International Election Observer Mission, comprised of representatives of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the parliamentary assemblies of the OSCE and Council of Europe, issued a preliminary assessment on October 16. We agree with its view that "voting in the 15 October Azerbaijan presidential election was generally well administered in most polling stations but the overall election process still fell short of international standards in several respects."

The United States considered these elections of great importance and informed the Government of Azerbaijan of our concerns at the highest level on numerous occasions. There were some positive developments, including the new Unified Election Code , a multiparty choice for voters, and technical improvements that made fraud more difficult to hide. However, these elements were overshadowed by serious deficiencies. These included the lack of a level playing field, police violence in the pre-election period, and partisan election commissions. While we regret that Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations receiving foreign funding were barred from observing, individual domestic observers were allowed. On election day, observers witnessed serious irregularities, including inaccurate voter lists leading to the denial of eligible voters the right to vote, voter intimidation, and ballot-box stuffing. Observers also reported serious irregularities in vote counting and tabulation. These problems cast doubt on the credibility of the electionís results.

The United States will work with President-elect Ilham Aliyev and his government, but we believe that Azerbaijanís leadership missed an important opportunity to advance democratization by holding a credible election. The United States calls for an immediate, independent, thorough and transparent investigation of all election violations.

We are also extremely concerned about post-election violence and what appears to be a wave of politically motivated arrests. Those who commit crimes should be prosecuted, whether civilians or police, and we call for a credible, transparent investigation. We also call upon the opposition parties to act peacefully and within the law. We call on Azerbaijan's Government to fulfill its OSCE commitments and its duties to protect all of its citizens and their rights.


Released on October 21, 2003

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