The first exit polls of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan were just released. According to these, Ilham Aliyev has won a fourth term with at least 82% of the vote. International election observers previously warned for irregularities. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) calls the elections a sham.
"These results were already set in stone. Politicians and journalists face constant intimidation and arbitrary arrest, while news outlets and websites are blocked. The seven other candidates running today were openly campaigning for Aliyev. The process today was nothing but a sham."
Schaake continues: "The restrictions to the number terms in office were abolished in 2009, clearing the way for Aliyev to become president for life. In addition, terms were increased from five to seven years. As the icing on the cake, Aliyev last year appointed his wife to become Vice President, making a mockery of democracy."
Suspend EU negotiations
The EU and Azerbaijan are currently negotiating a new association agreement. Schaake calls for these negotiations to be suspended until human rights and the rule of law are respected.
Schaake: "Suspending the negotiations is the only way to attach clear consequences to Aliyev's authoritarian behaviour. We cannot conclude a strategic agreement with the current regime. Suspension would also send a clear signal that human rights continue to top the European agenda."