Pana Huseyin of the People's Party claimed that the results showed "the most transparent falsification in the history of Azeri elections".

 

Vurgun Eyyub, deputy chair of the opposition Musavet party, told Aljazeera.net that "as a winning candidate, I call on international organisations and nations not to recognise the results".

The opposition has called on supporters to demonstrate on Tuesday afternoon in Baku, the Azeri capital.

 

It has also called for a peaceful protest, after rallies by the opposition during the election campaign were often banned and met with a police response OSCE monitors described as displaying "disproportionate force".

Municipal authorities in Baku have however this time granted the demonstrators permission to march.

Sceptical Azeris

 

Meanwhile, many Azeris remain deeply sceptical about the demonstration and the elections.

Leo Platevot found bad election
practices (Photo: John Wendle)



"It's a theatre," says Asli Guleyva, who works for a Western company in Baku. "The opposition will be marched onto the stage and then it will be marched off again. Meanwhile, we have all these problems - poverty and unemployment - and nothing will change."

The vote is still being counted, yet preliminary results at 7pm on Monday evening showed the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) with 63 seats out of 125.

 

The main opposition Azadlig bloc, which includes Musavet, the Popular Front and the Azeri Democratic Party, had just six seats between them. Independents, many of whom support the government, have some 41 seats.

 

Monitors uphold results

 

However, Western observers backed away on Monday from supporting opposition calls for cancellation of the ballot, despite declaring that parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were deeply flawed.

"The 6 November parliamentary elections did not meet a number of OSCE commitments," US Congressman Alcee Hastings said in Baku on Monday, on behalf of monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.

"There were shortcomings [in the election process]," Hastings said. "However, it is important to state that complaints should be dealt with in an appropriate manner and through the rule of law. They should be dealt with in an orderly and peaceful manner by the authorities and the opposition."

This was backed up by Leo Platveot from the Parliamentary

Beguin saw some improvements
in the polls (Photo: John Wendle)

Assembly of the Council of Europe, who said: "The road leading to these elections was paved with good intentions and bad practices."

 

He then said that according to his observers, "Forty-three percent of the [vote] counting process was either bad or very bad."

 

Observers also reported instances of ballot stuffing and inconsistent use of invisible ink markers to prevent multiple voting.

Positive impression

 

However, Western monitoring organisations also said there had been some improvements in the electoral process since the 2003 presidential elections.


"There was an overall positive impression of the voting day," said Marie Anne Isler Beguin, the head of a delegation from the European Parliament.

 

She added that the Azeri elections commission should take action "in those places where procedure has not been respected".

Meanwhile, Platveot said: "It is not our responsibility to judge if these elections were free and fair."

Such comments are unlikely to satisfy the opposition, which has alleged widespread fraud.