Azeri elections flawed, OSCE finds

Oct. 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Presidential elections in Azerbaijan were peaceful and organized but fell well short of any expectations of fairness, a European agency said Thursday.

Azeri President Ilham Aliyev secured a third term in office in Wednesday's election by a vast majority.

The Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan said thousands of cameras were online at polling stations across the country to monitor the vote. Michel Voisin, the head of a short-term observer team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said elections were organized but there were issues with vote counting.

The OSCE said candidates approved to run against Aliyev didn't have adequate access to the media and the media coverage there was focused mostly on the incumbent. The BBC reported he didn't campaign.

The OSCE said it witnessed a high degree of intimidation of journalists covering the political scene, though it was generally upbeat with a high voter turnout. Its observers, however, said there was clear evidence of ballot box stuffing and vote count tampering.

Tana de Zulueta, head of the office for democracy at the OSCE, said observers found the Azeri election failed most tests of fairness.

"The limitations placed on the fundamental freedoms of assembly, association, and expression, the lack of a level playing field, the allegations of intimidation all came in the lead up to an election day that our observers found to be seriously flawed," she said in a statement.

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