Election Preparations

by Nathan Hamm on 5/12/2005 · 4 comments

With elections on the horizon for each, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan seem to be taking two different paths.

First the bad news. Kazakhstan denies it is cracking down on dissent. That’s fairly difficult to buy considering the recent shutdown of Respublika (WAN, RSF, and CPJ have all protested), an attack on an opposition meeting, proposed restrictions on NGOs, an attack on a journalist (though I don’t know much about the case–could just be cops abusing their power), and other sundry happenings. In some cases, the government is saying it’s deeply upset by the actions against the opposition and will get to the bottom of it, and in others, it simply denies anything untoward is happening.

Though I’m still wary that it will amount to anything, Azerbaijan continues to say some of the right things. President Aliyev says he will work to stop election violations in the upcoming parliamentary vote.

Aliyev instructed the Central Election Commission to provide training to raise the qualifications of local election officials, who will be held legally responsible for “illegal interference in the election process.”

But Aliyev did not recommend amending the composition of such election bodies to give the opposition equal representation.

Opposition politicians argue that only such equal representation can preclude a repetition of the falsification of results in individual precincts that international observers believe contributed to the victory in earlier parliamentary elections of candidates of the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party or who are loyal to the current Azerbaijani leadership.

Aliyev further called for all parliamentary candidates to be provided with equal access to the media and freedom to conduct their election campaigns, and for the presidential administration to work with all political parties, whether pro-government or opposition, to monitor the use of technical assistance provided by international donors.

So it’s not good news without qualification, but it’s welcome. I am as loathe to make predictions as I always am, but there is at least a sliver of reason to believe that Ilham Aliyev will learn from the mistakes of others and try to stay in power by loosening rather than tightening restrictions on political activities.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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{ 2 comments }

Tim Russo May 12, 2005 at 6:52 pm

Nathan….c’mon.

Aliyev’s guarantees, plus $1.50, will buy you a cup of coffee.

Nathan May 12, 2005 at 8:07 pm

That’s why I’m not quite ready to make anything of it yet. There were some rumors recently that he genuinely wants some reform, but that he’s also lazy and probably doesn’t care enough to really fight to realize it.

I really do think though that eventually someone will figure out that loosening the reins some is a more guaranteed way to stay in power than cracking down. Maybe it’ll be him, but I won’t believe it until I see it.

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