Interior Ministry denies reports on arrests in post-election rally
By Rasana Gasimova
The Azerbaijani Interior Ministry has denied reports that several opposition activists, including the head of opposition Real party Ilqar Mammadov, were detained during the unsanctioned rally held in the capital Baku on 16 February following snap parliamentary elections held in the country.
“It is possible that during preventive measures someone was taken out of the territory by the police. This should not mean that they were detained,” the ministry’s Spokesperson Ehsan Zahidov told local media on February 16.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry warned that if an attempt is made to hold a rally or procession in a place not agreed with the Executive Power of Baku, it will be considered an illegal action, as a result of which all necessary measures will be taken to prevent it.
“Despite the official warning received earlier, on February 16, a group of people tried to hold a rally in front of the administrative building of the Central Election Commission at 15:00,”Baku police department reported.
It was stated that no protester was detained or injured.
Earlier, the Interior Ministry noted that Baku City Executive Power had examined appeals from representatives of the Musavat, REAL (Republican Alternative) parties, the D18 organization and independent candidates for the rally.
Baku City Executive Power allowed holding a rally from 15:00 to 17:00 on Sunday, February 16, 2020, in the village of Lokbatan, Garadagh district of Baku, at the training base of the Neftchi Sports Club.
The Ministry said that on the eve of the rally organizers were informed about that it would be inadmissible to hold a rally elsewhere except where the Baku City Executive Power allowed it.
Azerbaijan held early parliamentary elections on February 9 in a bid to speed up economic and personnel reforms within the government. Some 883 international observers from 58 countries and 59 organizations and 77,790 local observers monitored the voting process in the snap parliamentary elections.
On February 11, Azerbaijani Interior Ministry reported that police officers stopped an unsanctioned rally outside of the Central Election Committee by removing its participants from the venue of protest. Police also detained one of the protesters and his case is under investigation. No protester was injured during the rally.
On February 12, President Ilham Aliyev said that only irregularities in the proceedings took place during the election. He noted that existing violations will be seriously investigated, and those who have committed them will be punished. Following this, the Central Election Commission considered the appeals related to the elections in a special meeting held on February 13 and has so far annulled voting results at seven constituencies across the country.
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