Today, 19 December, in the Press Center of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, at the initiative of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, a roundtable discussion focusing on the ruling Yeni Azerbayjan Party’s proposal to remove the restriction on the number of presidential terms one person can serve.
IPD Director Layla Yunus said the proposal of such an amendment to the Constitution so soon after the 15 October 2008 presidential elections show impatience on the part of the ruling party. It is Yunus’ opinion that that the goal of this proposal is to create conditions for Iham Aliyev, who was re-elected for his second term this past October, to be re-elected again in 2013.
Azerbaijan Democratic Party Chairman Sardar Jalaloglu said that the passing of such an amendment would be a blow to Azerbaijan’s democratic image. “The Constitution is a fundamental thing for society,” said Jalaloglu. “Azerbaijan is starting to follow the path of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Parties are putting things up for discussion at the order of the government. This is already totalitarianism. The Yeni Azerbayjan Party’s desire to amend the Constitution to keep the same president for more than two terms is the first stage of totalitarianism in Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan Popular Front Party Chairman Ali Karimli said that the additions and changes proposed to be made to Constitution are very alarming signals from Azerbaijan’s government. “In democratic countries the Constitution and laws can be amended and improve,” said Karimli. But the suggestion being put forth today are a blow to the fundamental principles of democracy. That is why Azeri society must protest this.”
Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar said he was against someone being elected president more than twice. “The government is obviously rushing this issue,” said Gambar. “This shows that the ruling party wants to create serious obstacles for the development of a multi-party political system and the changing of the government through elections.”
Citizens and Development Party Chairman Ali Aliyev, Musavat Party Deputy leader Arif Hajili and Azerbaijan Liberal Party Deputy Chairman Avaz Temirkhan also spoke during the press conference and express their opposition to the proposed Constitutional amendments and changes.
At the end of the press conference, Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar and the other politicians thanked IRFS for creating conditions for them to conduct their roundtable discussion. According to Gambar, although appealed to other press centers in Baku, this clubs, but all cited excuses and refused to host the roundtable.