OSCE says Azerbaijan restrictions make poll monitoring impossible

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2015 11:03 AM

BAKU (Reuters) - The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said it will not monitor Azerbaijan's November parliamentary election because restrictions imposed by authorities have rendered credible poll monitoring impossible.

Azeris are due to vote for the new parliament on Nov. 1. Previous elections in the ex-Soviet state, led by President Ilham Aliyev for the last 12 years, have been criticized by international observers.

"The restriction on the number of observers taking part would make it impossible for the mission to carry out effective and credible election observation," Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said in a press release on the OSCE website.

Azeri officials were not immediately available for comments.

Azerbaijan's permanent mission to the OSCE said in August the country's authorities were ready to accept only six long-term and not more than 125 short-term ODIHR observers instead of 30 long-term and 350 short-term international monitors.

Azerbaijan canceled a European Commission delegation visit on Friday and said it might review relations with the EU after the bloc's parliament called on it to free an investigative journalist and several human rights figures.

Rights activists have accused Aliyev of waging a broad campaign to muzzle dissent by jailing his critics. Baku says the oil-rich country of 9 million people enjoys full free speech and a lively opposition media.

(Reporting by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Dominic Evans)