Opposition: A Unified Struggle Ahead
By Rovshan Ismayilov: 11/01/05

The opposition bloc Azadlig has announced plans to take its complaints to court, and has postponed a planned rally to protest the November 6 election results to a date authorized by the Baku city government.

At a November 7 news conference, Azadlig bloc leaders Isa Gambar (chairman, Musavat Party), Ali Kerimli (Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan chairman) and Sardar Jajaloglu (first deputy chairman, Democratic Party of Azerbaijan) repeated their intentions to reject the election results as falsified. Azadlig bloc’s post-election strategy, according to Kerimli, is “a peaceful, democratic, non-violent but decisive struggle for cancellation of the parliamentary elections results.”

Earlier plans to hold daily rallies in Baku’s Galaba Square from November 8 to 10 have been canceled, however, after Baku city officials refused to sanction a demonstration on November 8. A protest for Wednesday, November 9 at 3pm has been authorized, however. Gambar explained the decision to reschedule the rally by a desire to avoid “provok[ing] the ruling regime to violence.” Earlier unsanctioned Azadlig protests in central Baku have involved violent clashes with police.

At the same time, some 100 Azadlig-sponsored candidates will go to court to demand that the official results in their constituencies be cancelled. Commented Gambar: “Election practice in Azerbaijan has never seen such large-scale falsifications.” Azadlig will insist on the cancellation of results in at least 100 out of 125 constituencies, according to the Musavat Party leader.

According to preliminary official results, none of the three Azadlig leaders, nor Eldar Namazov, one of the leaders of the centrist opposition Yeni Siyaset (YeS) bloc, is slotted to win in their respective constituencies. Among Azerbaijan’s largest opposition parties, Lala Shovket, leader of the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan (LPA), is the sole leader who appears to have won a constituency, based on the Central Election Commission’s preliminary results.

It is likely that Azadlig will not be alone in its post-election strategy, however. At the Azadlig press conference, Shovket promised to cooperate in challenging the election results. “There is a front of democratic forces arising in Azerbaijan. And this front is keen to fight for free elections,” Shovket said.

Plans for cooperation with the YeS bloc in challenging the election results are also in the works. Though the two blocs failed the week before the elections to agree on united candidates for the elections, Rashid Hajily, a member of YeS’s coordinating council, did not exclude the possibility that Azadlig and YeS could restart their negotiations on a formal pact. “Despite previous failures, we are ready for post-election cooperation with the Azadlig bloc and all democratic forces,” Hajily told EurasiaNet on November 7.

In response, Panah Huseyn, Azadlig campaign manager, commented that “We would be happy to sign such an agreement,”

Editor’s Note: Rovshan Ismaylov is a freelance correspondent based in Baku.

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Isa Gambar, head of the Musavet Party and a leader of the opposition Azadlig bloc, is on his way to a news conference. Gambar and the other bloc members said they rejected the results of the Nov. 6 elections and called for peaceful rallies to challenge the results. (Yigal Schleifer for Eurasianet)