Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Azerbaijani election challenge: legal boundaries of international law


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President Ilham Alijev’s candidacy in the forthcoming presidential election (October 9) looks set to face a legal challenge from the main opposition candidate Camil Hasanli, the CSF website has learned from sources close to the campaign.

Hasanli will argue that the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission should have rejected the incumbent as a candidate in the election as the country’s constitution limits presidential rule to two terms while President Alijev is currently running for a third term.

The president’s supporters argue that a referendum held in March 2009 which lifted the two-term limit, allows the president to contend the election. However the opposition states that because the referendum was held during the second term it violated the non- retroactive legal principle and is therefore invalid.

It can be expected that the opposition will take the challenge through the Azerbaijani courts thus opening the way to a challenge before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). This would cast a legal shadow over the third term (were the President to win the election next month). This would put a question mark over treaties and agreements signed by the President until the case is resolved by the ECHR.

Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe, which means that the country is bound by ECHR judgments.

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