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Azerbaijan opposition slams vote fraud

Some opposition groups in Azerbaijan have accused the government of “widespread fraud” in the country’s Sunday parliamentary elections.

Azerbaijan’s ruling party, Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP), won the elections by securing 70 seats in the country’s 125-seat parliament.

Central Election Commission (CEC) on Monday put the turnout at 50.1 percent. Around 4.9 million of Azerbaijanis were eligible to vote, Deutsche Welle reported.

International observers have confirmed that voter turnout in the elections was extremely low in comparison with the previous elections.

Opposition leaders also argue that the low turnout was a result of candidate disqualifications by the commission, with many voters discouraged from casting ballots after their candidate of choice was excluded.

Although 2,500 candidates had nominated themselves for the parliamentary elections, the CEC allowed only 690 of them to compete in the vote.

Critics also alleged that authorities manipulated the vote by rejecting the registration of opposition candidates, suppressing free media coverage, intimidating public sector employees, and stuffing ballot boxes.

“The conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of the country,” Western observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe said in a statement.

The elections had been marred by “limitations of media freedom and freedom of assembly,” it added.

Head of the PACE Observers’ Mission Paul Wille also complained about some irregularities in the elections.

CEC Chairman Mazahir Panahov, speaking on state television, accused some foreign electoral observers of interfering in the elections more than the scope of their authority on Monday.

He said that the CEC has received complaints on the phone that are under investigation by the commission.

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