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Government Transparency

International organizations and Western governments have long criticized Azerbaijan for a presidential system perceived as dominating parliament and the courts, and a lack of public information about how government policies are made. In March 2005, however, the country took a significant step forward in this regard with the publication of the world’s first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative report, a document that details government use of oil, gas and mining revenue. What further measures should be in the offing?

Pro-Government: Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP):

YAP Deputy Executive Secretary Mubariz Gurbanly says that the party would like to increase the role of parliament in checking the government, but notes that «so far there is no need to implement greater checks on governmental activity.» Parliament’s role in approving the state budget, the appointment of the prime minister and hearing the government’s annual report he considers adequate. In the future, however, the party would like to see all government ministers appointed by the president with parliament’s approval. Gurbanly, however, describes the government as «quite transparent» and says that the party is satisfied with the level of transparency. The party advocates gradually reducing the interference of state bodies in the political process and supports competitive employment for state bureaucrats.

Opposition: Azadlig (Freedom) Bloc:

The party argues that directly elected mayors and governors should gradually replace local representatives of the executive branch. Parliament’s power should increase relative to the president, and the legislature should have the right to investigate and check the government’s actions and implementation of the budget. At the same time, procedures for gaining information about the government’s activities should be simplified for the media and for ordinary Azerbaijanis, according to Fakhmin Hajiyev, deputy head of Azadlig’s campaign.

Opposition: Yeni Siyasat (YeS – New Policy) Bloc:

Transparency is key for reducing corruption and making the government’s work more efficient. activity more efficient. To guarantee that the government is more responsive to voters, the first issue to tackle is its accountability to parliament, which must be increased, according to campaign manager Rashid Hajili.

Opposition: Liberal Party of Azerbaijan (LPA):

The Liberal Party argues that presidential and parliamentary elections should be held every four years rather than five years “to ensure political parties’ accountability to voters.” The party would like to reduce the president’s power and give parliament authority to approve or reject the budget, similar to the US congressional model. City councils should appoint the local executive authority and be authorized to check his or her power. The Liberals believe that parties should receive state financing based on their membership size, most recent election results and the results of an IQ test taken by their leadership. Media should have unfettered access to information about government activities, and ministerial councils, except in law enforcement agencies, should include representatives of the parliament and opposition.

Candidate: Rasim Musabekov, Independent
Constituency: # 23 Nasimi-Sabail
Location: Downtown Baku

Parliament’s ability to control the executive branch of government is the only way to provide for greater government transparency, Musavekov argues. “The public character of parliamentary debates will by itself allow society to gain more information about the government’s activity.” Parliament must focus constant attention on the activities of the State Oil Fund, in particular, and have the power to control its actions, Musavekov continues. Special measures should be undertaken for providing greater media independence and the independence of the new public television, above all. The development of a state program on creation of “e-government” also deserves careful attention.

Candidate: Ilgar Mammadov, Independent
Constituency: # 8 First Binagadi
Location: Baku suburb

Among the reforms proposed by Mammadov: constituency offices “open to all voters,” public voting records, and a larger role for towns in local issues than the presidential administration holds. Also on the agenda: ” In line with the bureaucracy reduction measures, the cabinet of ministers should merge with the presidential administration to avoid duplication of authority.”

AZERBAIJAN: ELECTIONS 2005 is a production of EurasiaNet.org with funding provided by the Open Society Institute.
Copyright © 2005 EurasiaNet.org.