Ilham Aliyev: "This was the nation's conscious choice"
Addressing the crowd gathered outside the Haydar Aliyev Center in Baku, President Ilham Aliyev said, "I have always felt the support of the Azerbaijani nation. I have also always relied on this support. This support is an integral part of my work. I have always tried, to serve the nation faithfully and with dignity".
The president also said, "The Azerbaijani nation made its choice in this election. The people once again voted for our policy, stability, development, and progress".
The president noted that the election that took place in free, transparent and just way reflects the will of the nation. And that there is no other country in the world that has shown the same economic development in the last 15 years as much as Azerbaijan.
Watch the reaction during a press conference against international observers
The reaction erupted during the first minutes of the press statement by the international observers from the PACE and OSCE, ODIHR. As one of the representatives read, "the early presidential election in Azerbaijan took place within a restrictive political environment and under laws that curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, which are prerequisites for genuine democratic elections. Against this backdrop and in the absence of pluralism, including in the media, the election lacked genuine competition".
Responding to the preliminary report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they considered the results subjective. The head of the media relations at the MFA, Hikmat Hajiyev in a statement to local media said: "In the report, the observers concluded that the elections took place in the limited political environment, which is absolutely unfounded. All necessary environment was made available ahead of the election for all registered presidential candidates to carry out their campaigns", said Hajiyev.
Hajiyev reiterated that media is absolutely free in Azerbaijan.
Hajiyev also requested that the OSCE ODIHR provides evidence for lack of transparency and other violations on the election day.
Press Release by the International Observers from OSCE, PACE, ODIHR
The early presidential election in Azerbaijan took place within a restrictive political environment and under laws that curtail fundamental rights and freedoms, which are prerequisites for genuine democratic elections. Against this backdrop and in the absence of pluralism, including in the media, the election lacked genuine competition.
On election day our observers reported widespread disregard of mandatory procedures, lack of transparency and irregularities such as ballot stuffing, said Milza de Sena in her opening remarks.
Prior to the election, ODIHR observers reported that public sector employees and university students were compelled to attend YAP campaign activities and events where attendants were prevented from leaving.
International observers also talked about restrictive media environment and noted with concern that defamation remains a criminal offense, which the observer said further limits the freedom of expression that is key to political campaigning.
The overview and conclusions from the mission angered local representatives from pro-government media. The editor in chief of Ses Newspaper, Bahruz Guliyev accused the mission of having presented a pre-prepared statement that reflects thoughts of anti-Azerbaijan powers. "The country you are have talked about here is away from civilization. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, is a legal state. There were no obstacles for media. International organizations said this as well. We observed elections in absolute freedom. Don't play with emotions and nerves of Azerbaijani people".
In her question addressed to PACE representatives Mr. Bardera, Khadija Ismayil asked the delegation whether they have accepted any gifts throughout their stay. Mr. Bardera said he was perfectly aware of the rules and said he considered the question a joke.
The full statement made by the international observers can be accessed here.
The preliminary statement by Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center
The Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) has released its preliminary statement on findings of monitoring April 11, 2018. early Presidential Election in Azerbaijan.
According to the statement, "April 11, 2018, Presidential Election took place in an environment of increasing restrictions on freedoms of expression, assembly, and association. Political repression has increased since the 2013 Presidential Election and the number of political prisoners has doubled, reaching 138 people. Independent media and civil society have faced severe restrictions to the point where there is virtually no space in which to operate".