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OSCE Alleges Unfair Treatment of Azerbaijan Opposition

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says the opposition is being treated unfairly in the lead-up to Azerbaijan's October 15 presidential elections.

In its latest report, the OSCE Elections Observation Mission in Baku says government agencies often tend to show favoritism for the campaigns of incumbent President Heydar Aliyev and his son, Prime Minister Ilham Aliyev.

The report notes opposition activists and journalists have been harassed, intimidated, and sometimes detained by state authorities, while rule infractions in the Aliyevs' campaigns are overlooked.

The agency says some would-be candidates have been denied registration by the Central Election Commission without a clear reason. And it says opposition candidates requesting space for political rallies are given venues much too small for their needs.

In addition, it says state television grants free advertising time to all candidates, but ignores all but the Aliyevs during its news and current affairs programming.

The OSCE has 20 long-term observers in Azerbaijan monitoring preparations for the election. Five hundred short-term observers will be deployed closer to election day, to monitor the voting, ballot counting, and tabulation of results.