Too Little Too Late

–Measures to ensure fair elections in Azerbaijan too late–says democracy watchdog group

(Combined Sources)–In an attempt to quell international criticism–Azeri President Ilham Aliyev issued an executive order on October 25 to ensure that the November 6 parliamentary elections are fair.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW)–a New York-based democracy watchdog group–released an update to its earlier report on the situation in Azerbaijan. In the updated report–HRW claims that due to the late introduction of that executive order–effective implementation is "highly unlikely."

The executive order introduced several measures to prevent multiple voting–allow international organizations to observe the elections–and punish violations by the candidates.

Several of these measures–such as the decision to allow foreign non-governmental organizations to observe the election–are "meaningless" because the deadline to implement them has passed. Other measures would require trained personnel and equipment that cannot be acquired with such short notice.

The HRW report also states that–"the widespread bias in the media in favor of pro-government parties–restrictions on freedom of assembly–and arrests–beatings–and intimidation of opposition activists that have characterized the electoral campaign–have already fundamentally tainted the integrity of the vote."

Despite the executive order–the HRW report claims that the atmosphere surrounding the election has not changed. Harassment–abuse–and restrictions continue for the opposition.

The report also addresses the government’s allegation that it is trying to prevent a coup: "The government is using the alleged plot as an excuse for a wider crackdown on the opposition."

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