Azerbaijan’s Presidential Vote Marred by Irregularity Reports

Reports of Alleged Abuses in Azerbaijan’s Election Raise Questions about Electoral Integrity

As Azerbaijanis began voting in a snap presidential election, allegations of irregularities began to emerge, raising concerns about the integrity of the electoral process. These reports, including carousel voting, faulty ink markings, and ballot tampering, were all too familiar to international monitors who had come to observe the vote.

RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service collected reports of alleged abuses in the February 7 poll, highlighting issues such as carousel voting, where individuals are transported to multiple polling stations to vote multiple times, as well as faulty markings with indelible ink intended to prevent repeat voting. There were also complaints of ballot tampering and multiple voters gathering in a single booth to cast ballots. These allegations cast a shadow over the legitimacy of the election.

President Ilham Aliyev called the February 7 election two months ago, in the wake of Azerbaijan’s military offensive to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite this, the majority of the legitimate opposition chose to boycott the vote, further raising questions about the credibility of the process.

In addition to concerns about voting irregularities, RFE/RL also reported complaints from residents in Azerbaijan’s central district of Imishli, where employees of kindergartens and secondary schools were allegedly pressured to come to work on a public holiday. Supposedly, these workers were then sent to polling stations to cast their votes in small groups, raising questions about potential coercion and voter manipulation.

Furthermore, international monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe (OSCE) cited various instances of obstruction and violations during the election. These included an incident in which an independent observer was allegedly expelled from a polling place with the help of police, as well as electoral workers handling pre-cut ballots in an inappropriate manner.

Overall, these reports of alleged abuses and malpractices raise significant doubts about the fairness and transparency of the electoral process in Azerbaijan. Observations from international monitors and journalists paint a concerning picture of potential voter coercion, manipulation, and obstruction, ultimately undermining the credibility of the outcome.

As the election concluded, President Aliyev appears to be on track for a fifth consecutive election victory. However, it is clear that the reported irregularities and violations have called into question the legitimacy of the electoral process, posing significant challenges for the credibility of the new president’s mandate.


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