Azeri Opposition Leader Calls for Reconciliation

Washington (RFE/RL)–Etibar Mamedov–the leader of the National Independence Party of Azerbaijan–appealed to both President Haydar Aliyev and the leaders of the Azeri opposition to "stop mutually ignoring each other" and "accusing one another of being an enemy of the Azeri people."

Speaking at a news conference on July 14 at the Washington offices of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty–Mamedov–who himself is a candidate in the upcoming presidential election–called for a sustained effort to restore the faith of the people of Azerbaijan in the rule of law and in peaceful–democratic change within the framework of law.

Mamedov said he was encouraged by the Azeri parliament’s recent passage of amendmen’s to the country’s election laws–which he believes will help ensure a free and fair environment for the presidential election–due October 11–1998. He called on international organizations to participate in the election process and help educate Azerbaijan’s electorate. He said that Azerbaijan needs "to go through several free and fair elections" for democracy to become firmly rooted in the country.

Mamedov said that one of his party’s main goals during the upcoming presidential campaign is to raise the level of voter awareness and participation in Azerbaijan’s political process. He noted the difficulty the National Independence Party is experiencing in its outreach efforts–with government forces seizing control of party offices in several districts and two NIP parliament deputies being prevented by police from meeting with voters. Mamedov said that the party is not "making an issue" out of such government interference.

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