BAKU, 3 March 2009 - The OSCE Office in Baku, the President's Executive Apparatus (PEA), and the Central Election Commission (CEC) inaugurated a series of information sessions today focusing on non-interference in the electoral process.
During the sessions, the heads of regional executive authorities and the chairmen of constituency election commissions will be briefed about the Electoral Code's provisions for non-interference, and given practical examples of what is considered interference in the context of OSCE commitments for democratic elections.
"Our goal is to stress the basic principles of free and fair elections, and to underline the need to avoid any interference in the process," said Alexis Chahtahtinsky, the Acting Head of the OSCE Office in Baku.
Further information sessions will take place in Baku, Ganja and Shirvan ahead of the 18 March constitutional referendum.
Ali Hasanov, the Head of Public-Political Affairs Department of the PEA, and Mazahir Panahov, Chairman of the CEC, attended today's information session in Baku.
"A referendum is a serious political event. This is why election institutions and the local executive authorities have to take all necessary measures to ensure non-interference," said Hasanov, who also emphasized the importance of allowing each citizen to express his or her will, and of raising voters' awareness about the proposed changes to the Constitution.
Mazahir Panahov, the Head of the CEC, also emphasized the significance of non-interference in the electoral process and briefed the participants about the actions that the CEC has taken in order to guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens.
"We organized comparative presentations about the proposed changes and amendments to the Constitution. The draft referendum act and examples of voting ballots were also distributed among the voters," Panahov said.
A similar initiative was held last summer ahead of the presidential elections. The Election Observation Mission of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights noted in its Final Report devoted to the 15 October 2008 presidential election that "instances of interference in the election process by State and local authorities were fewer than in previous elections", demonstrating the effectiveness of such information sessions.