Following the completion of its work, the 45th SCO Mission of Observers held an official news conference on monitoring the process for the preparations and holding of the early presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
The news conference held by the SCO Observer Mission became the first in a series of official statements on the international observers' monitoring the election process in Azerbaijan.
The head of the Mission, SCO Secretary-General Rashid Alimov, addressed the representatives of local and international media. "For the first time in the history of the Organisation, the SCO sent its Mission of Observers to the Republic of Azerbaijan, the SCO's dialogue partner," he said. "In the course of one week, starting from 5 April 2018, members of the SCO Observer Mission carried out their activities in the country at the invitation of Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry."
"The work of the Mission, which included professional lawmakers, members of the Central Election Commission and experienced diplomats, was based on the principles of objectivity, political neutrality, transparency, impartiality and non-interference in the internal affairs of the country, and was held in strict compliance with the national laws of Azerbaijan," Alimov said. He also noted that "the findings and conclusions were made in accordance with personal observations of the Mission's members and the analysis of information materials collected during the preparations for the election and on the election day."
According to Mr Alimov, "the Mission members had unimpeded access to all the necessary information and received copies of electoral documents from the Azerbaijani electoral authorities, were able to freely visit every polling station and voting premises, and got closely acquainted with the work on the preparation and holding of the election carried out by the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission and the candidates' political campaigns."
"We state that the Republic of Azerbaijan created all the necessary conditions for the operation of the SCO Mission of Observers to conduct comprehensive and integrated monitoring of the process for the preparations and holding of the election, which we see as a confirmation of openness, transparency and the democratic nature of the election process in this country," the SCO Secretary-General stated.
The head of the Observer Mission also stated that in order to conduct fair, transparent and open elections, a special invisible ink which disappears a few days after its application plus ultraviolet detectors were used at the polling stations in order to mark the fingers of the people who had already cast their votes. "According to the members of the SCO Observer Mission, these tools prevented people from voting more than once and ensured timely detection of violations during the voting," Alimov noted.
The head of the Mission also drew attention to the large-scale information and awareness-building work carried out by the Central Election Commission, during which it published a total of 16 compilations consisting of 38 legal documents. The Commission also posted detailed information about the election in its social media accounts.
The Observer Mission praised the broad international participation in monitoring the presidential election in Azerbaijan and the high level of local observers' activity. In this regard, Mission members stated that the presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan was held on a highly competitive basis, with active participation of representatives of civic society, and that the republic created favourable conditions for the voters to make an independent and informed choice in the conditions of international monitoring.
"In order to ensure a broad representative sample of the election process held at the polling stations in various areas on the territory of Azerbaijan, the Observer Mission monitored the election in five cities: Baku, Ganja, Mingachevir, Absheron and Sumqayit," the Secretary-General reported to the press.
Mr Alimov highlighted the fact that during the period of preparations and on the election day, the Mission's members visited 384 polling stations. The observers paid these visits without coordinating them with the executive and electoral authorities of Azerbaijan. "The Mission members made an independent decision as to which polling station to visit," the head of the SCO Observer Mission stated. "There were no obstacles to the Mission members' visiting any of the polling stations."
Members of the Observer Mission also commended the active participation of citizens in the voting, as well as the professional level of the district election commission employees' training. "The process of voting at the polling stations proceeded smoothly, in compliance with the established procedure and under the supervision of the local, public and international observers, as well as media representatives," Rashid Alimov noted.
"The SCO Observer Mission can state that the presidential election in the Republic of Azerbaijan was held in accordance with the requirements of the country's electoral legislation and the international commitments undertaken by this country," the SCO Secretary-General said. "The Mission found no evidence of violations of the national legislation that would put the election's legitimacy into question. The Mission recognises this election as legitimate, transparent, credible and democratic."
On behalf of the SCO Observer Mission, the SCO Secretary-General congratulated the people of Azerbaijan on the election of the President and wished them success in the pursuit of strengthening their country's independence, sovereignty and social and economic development, as well as new achievements in all spheres of public life.