IRI to shut Baku office

3 November 2009 22:25 (UTC+04:00)
The Baku office of the International Republican Institute (IRI), a non-governmental organization that receives funding from US government aid arm USAID, is about to halt its operation.
Jake Jones, Resident Country Director for Azerbaijan, announced the decision in a meeting with Isa Gambar, the leader of the country’s major opposition Musavat party. Jones said the IRI office is to shut down on November 30, according to Musavat.
Gambar voiced disappointment with this, saying the IRI office’s further operation would be useful for strengthening ties between the United States and Azerbaijan.
Terry Davidson, the spokesman for the US embassy in Baku, has brought clarity to the matter. He said USAID has completed its regular review of the programs it implements and announced bids for new projects. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Fund for Election Systems (IFES) submitted their proposals and will continue cooperating with the US embassy, while the IRI did not participate and now intends to halt its activity in Azerbaijan.
Elchin Rzayev, the IRI office representative in charge of programs, said that, though the institute would like to continue operating in the country, this is impossible for reasons beyond its control, adding that the difficulties were mainly related to funding.
The IRI Baku office has operated for over 10 years and implemented a number of projects on holding and making preparations for elections.*