Azerbaijan’s Central Electoral Commission refused yesterday to register the lists of candidates of several opposition parties for the November 12 legislative elections. The commission invalidated some of the signatures in support of those lists, bringing the number of valid signatures below the legally required minimum. The main parties affected by the ruling are the Communist and the Musavat parties. (The Popular Front had been disqualified earlier.) Communist Party leader Ramiz Akhmedov said that "the authorities regard this party as a dangerous competitor and have taken urgent measures to prevent its participation in the elections." Musavat party leader Isa Gambar similarly declared that the authorities would not allow "any real opposition party" to participate. The parties may still enter their individual candidates in the election. (15)
The parties grouped in the opposition Round Table and outside it have, since the preparatory stage of the electoral campaign, warned that they may boycott the election if the campaign is unfair. They are due to hold a conference shortly to make a final decision. The US and other Western embassies have urged president Heydar Aliev’s government to lift the restrictions, and have encouraged the opposition to participate in the election despite the difficulties.
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