Azerbaijan’s ruling party wins parliamentary elections amid boycott

Azerbaijan’s ruling party has won parliamentary elections that were boycotted by the main opposition parties, the country’s electoral commission said, the BBC reports.

The ruling New Azerbaijan party won at least 70 seats in the 125-seat parliament, the commission said.

A host of small parties and candidates loyal to President Ilham Aliyev took almost all the rest.

The opposition has accused the government of jailing its opponents.

International monitors from the OSCE did not observe the vote, citing government restrictions.

More than a dozen political parties were vying for 125 seats in Azerbaijan’s National Assembly.

But analysts say those that could be considered genuine in their opposition to the government refused to participate.

“The pre-election period was marred by massive violations. That’s why we decided not to participate,” opposition Musavat Party leader Arif Gajily told Reuters news agency.

According to the BBC, Sunday’s vote serves as a reminder of the oppressive political environment inside the oil-rich nation.

In the past two years the Azeri authorities have jailed almost all critical voices, among them journalists, civil society activists, and human rights lawyers.

The government has also become increasingly intolerant of international criticism.

It denied the existence of any political prisoners, and it frequently describes negative publicity as a Western agenda to discredit Azerbaijan.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the leading international monitoring group, has not considered any of Azerbaijan’s elections since independence to be free and fair.

This year – for the first time in more than two decades – it chose not to send a mission, condemning the Azerbaijani government’s “crackdown on independent and critical voices”.

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