Campaign groups registered in connection with the upcoming popular vote (referendum) of September 26 on amendments to the Constitution are refusing free airtime offered.
The “New Azerbaijan,” “Civil Society” and “Municipality” campaign groups, which are going to campaign in favour of the referendum, have been registered by the Central Election Commission (CEC). CEC has denied registration to Musavat Party’s “Republic” campaign group on the ground that the number of the group’s valid signatures was ‘less than required’. Musavat Party leadership called the CEC decision unlawful and politically motivated. Among the forces opposing the constitutional amendments, the National Council decided to boycott the referendum from the very start. REAL Movement was also collecting signatures to create a campaign group, but announced quitting signature collection under government pressure.
Although the referendum campaign period officially started on September 3, the registered campaign groups “New Azerbaijan,” “Civil Society” and “Municipality” have not applied to the CEC in this connection.
According to the press service of “New Azerbaijan” campaign group’s founder New Azerbaijan Party (NAP), its authorised representatives hold meetings with voters in all regions. In addition, the “New Azerbaijan” campaign group have placed campaign materials on the billboards assigned by the CEC.
The “Civil Society” and “Municipality” campaign groups also say they hold meetings and place campaign materials on billboards.
Apparently, none of the campaign groups wants to use free airtime.
Background: The referendum on amendments to the Constitution in Azerbaijan will be held on September 26. The Draft Referendum Act stipulates establishment of the posts of first vice-president and vice-presidents of Azerbaijan. It also extends the term of office of the president from 5 years to 7 years. Minimum age requirements for the president and parliamentarians are removed. Besides, the president is granted the power to dissolve the parliament.