Azerbaijani PM Pledges Free Elections
Hereditary Prime Minister Ilham Aliev pledged Monday that this week’s presidential election will be free and fair, warning that authorities will deal sternly with anyone who resorts to violence other than police and poll watchers of course.
He’ll still insist that they were free and fair after he gets 95% of the vote.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch said Monday that the presidential campaign had been manipulated to favor Aliev, who is seeking to succeed his ailing father Geidar Aliev. The 80-year-old leader appointed his son prime minister in August after dropping out of the race after blotting half his brain in a stroke for health reasons. The group said election commissions were stacked with Aliev’s supporters and non-governmental organizations were prevented from monitoring the vote.
That’s so unusual in that part of the world, too.
It also accused officials of obstructing opposition rallies and said police had detained and beaten hundreds of opposition activists. ``The direct result of the government-sponsored campaign against the opposition is that ... elections in Azerbaijan will be of questionable legitimacy, regardless of the fairness and transparency of the election-day procedures,’’ Human Rights Watch said.
"Cheez, you’d think this is Burma or something!"
Voters in this oil-rich Caspian Sea coast nation will decide Wednesday on a successor to Aliev’s father who has ruled for the last decade since taking power after a military coup.
Does this election count as a peaceful transfer of power?
Aliev told a news conference that election rules and procedures had been established to make falsification impossible. ``These elections will be held democratically ... they will be transparent and free,’’ Aliev said, adding that ``if someone wants to destabilize the situation, he will get a corresponding response. We will not allow a riot or military coup.’’
"One coup every hundred years is enough, and we had our one thanks to dear old dad!"
Also Monday, two members of a pro-government party suffered second and third-degree burns after setting themselves on fire outside the Central Election Commission headquarters in Baku to protest against opposition candidate Isa Gambar’s participation in the race.
Idiots. Obviously they hadn’t been let in on the true score.
Posted by: Steve White 2003-10-14