EU skeptical of Azeri commitment to democracy

Oct. 11, 2013 at 11:59 AM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Voter support for an open political system is apparent in Azerbaijan though it seems recent presidential elections were flawed, EU officials said Friday.

The Central Election Commission in Azerbaijan said Thursday its preliminary vote count from 5,492 polling stations revealed incumbent President Ilham Aliyev took 84.5 percent of the votes, securing a third term in office.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe announced Thursday from Baku voter participation was high but the political climate was restricted and the election was "seriously flawed."

Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief for the European Union, and Neighborhood Commissioner Stefan Fule issued a statement Friday through their office saying there were "serious shortcomings " with the election "which need to be addressed in order for Azerbaijan to fully meet its international commitments."

David Lidington, British foreign secretary in charge of European affairs, said London valued Azerbaijan as an "important partner" but shared concerns expressed by his regional counterparts.

Most observers of the Azeri election said voter turnout was high and Election Day was peaceful. The Washington Post, among others, reported Azeri election officials sent out results suggesting an Aliyev win on a smartphone application a full day before the election.

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