Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 208

More than twenty Azerbaijani opposition parties and groups yesterday signed an agreement that creates a Movement for Democracy (MFD). Its stated purpose is to unite the country’s “democratic forces” and remove the present authorities–termed “dictatorial regime”–from power by using legal means. The bloc demands the holding of new presidential elections as well as parliamentary and municipal elections. The MFD is comprised of the Popular Front, the Musavat Party, the Democratic Party, the Liberal Party and a host of small groups, including half a dozen pan-Turkic and militant ultranationalist groups. Yesterday’s constitutive conference and signing ceremony were held at the headquarters of the Democratic Party, which represents the wealthy expatriate ex-chairman of parliament, Rasul Guliev (Turan, Assa-Irada, November 9).

MFD members are the parties and organizations which boycotted the October 11 presidential election or supported the boycott. The National Independence Party and Independent Azerbaijan Party, led respectively by Etibar Mamedov and Nizami Suleimanov, have not joined the MFD. Mamedov and Suleimanov opposed the boycott, participated in the election and placed a distant second and third, respectively, after the re-elected President Haidar Aliev. Last week, Mamedov and Suleimanov signed a separate agreement to cooperate in efforts to annul the election results (AzadInform, November 5, 7). Both claim second place. Each claims the right to face Aliev in a runoff.

The creation of the MFD and the Mamedov-Suleimanov agreement may temporarily attenuate–but will not heal–the rifts and competitive relations among various opposition leaders, parties and splinter groups. The political and social base of even the established opposition parties is likely to remain narrow, unless the government maladroitly plays into their hands.