Aliyev voting in the desolate Stepanakert

By: K. Khodanian

Following the forced depopulation of Artsakh, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, hastily called for early elections in an attempt to legitimize his regime and shed the label of a dictator frequently attributed to him by international human rights organizations.

Once again, Aliyev succumbed to temptation and claimed victory with an improbable 92 percent of the vote, even “receiving” 6000 votes in the desolate Stepanakert, where only members of the presidential family were present to vote.

European observers wasted no time in delivering a scathing critique, revealing instances of double voting, ballot stuffing, and serious violations. “The extraordinary presidential elections were conducted in a restrictive environment, devoid of critical voices and political alternatives. Regrettably, previous recommendations to align the legislative framework with international standards for democratic elections were disregarded,” stated OSCE observers, underscoring the failure to meet democratic election standards. The United States echoed these sentiments, urging Azerbaijan to fulfill its international obligations regarding fundamental freedoms and democratic processes.

Moscow, increasingly a political backer of Azerbaijan in addition to being its military ally, hastily came to the support of Baku, dismissing negative assessments of the elections as biased. In a ludicrous statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs cited Russian observers who claimed that “voting occurred under competitive conditions, on alternative bases, and in a favorable atmosphere.” However, opposition parties in Azerbaijan boycotted the presidential elections asserting that the results were predetermined. Remarkably, other so-called candidates in the election were lavishing praise on Ilham Aliyev during their campaigns.

These assessments from European observers take us back to their similar reports, not long ago, about elections in Armenia. Recognizing the futility of achieving a change of power through elections, the Armenian people resorted to drastic measures, ousting the previous corrupt regime through a popular uprising. The people of Azerbaijan may find themselves compelled to follow Armenia’s example.

To his disappointment, leaders of the USA, Germany, Great Britain, France, and other European nations refrained from congratulating Aliyev. Consequently, his attempts to secure legitimacy for his government failed to materialize, and he remains within the ranks of dictators.

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