Tuesday, 27 September
All 29 constitutional amendments that were submitted for approval in a national referendum in Azerbaijan, held on Monday, have been approved by a huge majority, according to the Chairman of the Azerbaijan Central Elections Commission, Mazahir Panahov.
"Azerbaijani voters approved all 29 issues put to them in the referendum, so all these amendments can already be regarded as legitimate," Panahov said.
According to the provisional results, 3,671,707 people voted in the referendum, based on data from 70.2% of the polling stations (3950 polling stations) processed.
Overall voter turnout was 69.7%, he said.
Monday 26 September
European People's Party issues statement on Azerbaijan Referendum
The European People's Party Observation Delegation have released a statement on the Constitutional Referendum of September 26th 2016 in the Republic of Azerbaijan.
"Following the invitation of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a Delegation of the EPP - the European People's Party, the leading political family of Europe - came to Azerbaijan to observe the Constitutional Referendum of September 26th 2016.
This Delegation is composed of 11 participants, including current and former members of the European Parliament and National Parliaments, former members of Governments of the European Union, representing 7 nationalities, all of them with experiences in other election observations.
Before polling day the Delegation visited the preparation works at some polling stations and met with the leadership of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan that presented a detailed survey of all the preparatory works both for the thorough information of the citizens as well as all the procedures foreseen for voting day. We were informed that every household received, more than a month before the vote, the full text of the 29 amendments to be voted and the comparison to the current Constitutional text. All the orders and instructions issued by the Central Election Commission have been in accordance with the good practices and international standards.
The first aspect to be highlighted is the fact that today we witnessed not 1 but 29 referendums, as the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan could express their vote on each of the amendments, reason for which the time each voter was in the voting booth was longer than usual.
The EPP Delegation was present in the opening procedures in a polling station, and had also the opportunity to visit several others during the voting time, as well as witnessing the closing of one of them. In all places the procedures were according to international standards, the voters in need were properly assisted, the vast majority seemed well informed on the content and on the voting procedures, and the absence of any military or police officers was also noted.
After the closing of the voting, some members of our Delegation are currently observing the counting, which due to the special circumstances of this process will take also longer than usual, although the Central Election Committee has conceived an interesting speedy way.
To sum up, it is the conviction of our Delegation that the process of the Referendum on the Constitution changes in the Republic of Azerbaijan of the 26th September 2016 has been conducted in a free, open and sound process, in accordance with the best international standards, and that it will definitively express the will of the People of the Republic of Azerbaijan," the statement reads.
The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission has now released the provisional estimate of the number of voters in the Constitutional referendum. It says that out of an electorate of 5,267,111, those that voted amounted to 3,671,700 or 69.7%
Voting in Azerbaijan's constitutional referendum has closed. We are still awaiting results from the exit polls and figures from the CEC regarding final voter turnout.
CEC sources report that turnout at Azerbaijan's constitutional referendum is at 63.6 % at 17.00 local time (13.00 GMT) with two hours of voting to go.
In the meantime the news agency APA carried comments by one of the former rapporterus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Tadeusz Iwinski, who is in Azerbaijan to monitor the referendum.
Iwinski told APA he arrived in Azerbaijan with a group of observers to monitor the referendum.
"The group includes members of the mission of the European Academy for Elections Observation and PACE," said the former co-rapporteur. "No shortcomings have been observed at the polling stations we visited. I have observed presidential and parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan. I am observing the referendum for the first time. I have met some individual observers. I think women voters are more active. The counting process will be difficult as people would give different answers to 29 questions." APA quoted Iwinski as saying.
The Azerbaijan Central Elections Commission is saying that by 15.00 the number of voters in Azerbaijan's Constitutional referendum was 2,833,064 - this being 53% of those who were eleigible to vote. Voting closes at 19.00 local time (15.00 GMT)
Ali Kerimli, the leader of one of the main opposition parties in Azerbaijan has commented on the current referendum. He was quoted by Meydan TV as saying that Azerbaijani Popular Front Party leader commented on the ongoing constitutional referendum: "The nation is entirely boycotting this referendum. Voting stations are empty. The authorities have proved unsuccessful in even achieving the appearance of voter activity. In connection with the decrease in oil and gas dollars, the government has been unable to motivate the people to vote. The people are showing no real support for the government."
The Central Elections Commission of Azerbaijan has declared that the referendum on constitutional changes is valid as the number of voters who have already cast their votes has exceeded 25% - the number required by the electoral code for the referendum to be valid. The Commission had earlier stated that 30.6% of voters had cast their vote by 12.00 Baku local time.
(Picture courtesy of Apa.az)
The Azerbaijani Central Elections Commission says that it has registered over one hundred observers from thirty countries who are in Baku monitoring the election process. A number of these observers have spoken to the local media saying that the referendum is well organised.
The opposition Meydan TV is showing images of what it says is ballot stuffing in Narimanov - Nizami district voting station No. 27
You can watch it on youtube here
Ali Hassanov, the main spokesperson for the Azerbaijan Government, told journalists in Baku this morning that Azerbaijan is preparing for the post-oil period. "But we did not expect that it would come so quickly. Therefore, President Ilham Aliyev has taken the initiative to carry out prompt and timely reforms",the pro Government website, Haqqin.az quoted Hassanov as saying.
Hasanov added that the reforms are necessary to mobilize all possible resources in the development of the country - administrative, economic, and human resources.
Commonspace.eu political editor commented on the Azerbaijan referendum
The referendum being held today in Azerbaijan is of more interest to the governing elites than it is to the mass of the population. The constitutional amendments will determine the relations between these elites in the future.
Turnout by 12.00 is reported at 30.6%. Whilst the official media is reporting that the voting is brisque, observers on the ground say voting has been slow. There are reports that teachers are contacting the parents of their students urging to come out and vote. Teachers usually play an important role in Azerbaijani elections as staff of electoral precincts and local election commissions. If they are now being used to mobilise the vote this will be an interesting twist.
Voter apathy may risk the referendum failing to get enough participants, and it seems the government is taking no chances.
According to the Central Elections Commission voting in the referendum was 30.6% by 12.00 Baku local time (0800 GMT)
Voting continues in Azerbaijan's Constitutional referendum being held today. The polling stations opened at 08.00 Baku time (04.00 GMT) and closes at 19.00 Baku time (15.00 GMT)
International observers who are in Baku monitoring the referendum process have been quoted by local media as saying that the referendum is "well organised".
(photo: Сo-rapporteur of the PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan Stefan Schennach. Picture courtesy of Apa.az)
A US polling firm Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates (AJF) and Citizen's Labor Rights Protection League are conducting an exit poll at the referendum underway in Azerbaijan.
AJF will announce the results at 8:00 p.m. Baku time.
Voting has started in Azerbaijan to approve a raft of constitutional changes.
The Central Elections Commission has said that 12.9% of voters had cast their vote by 10.00 am this morning (Baku time)
President Aliev voted this morning (photo) at polling station no 6, accompanied by members of his family.
Sunday 25 September
The Chairman of the Azerbaijan Central Elections Commission (CEC) on Sunday met the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States that will be monitoring the consitutional referendum being held on Monday.
According to the website of the Azerbaijani CEC, Commisson Chairman Chairman Mazahir Panahov informed international observers on steps put for and wide-scale projects carried out for the conduct of free, fair and transparent referendum.
Some 117 international observers have been accredited in the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission (CEC) to monitor the Sept. 26 referendum in the country.
They include representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and representatives of various international organizations and parliamentarians, and come from 33 nationalities.
Photo: The Chairman of the Azerbaijan CEC meeting representatives from the CIS Parliamentary Assembly on the eve of the referendum being held in the country on 26 September. (picture courtesy of the Azerbaijan CEC press service)
Campaigning in the Constitutional referendum ended on midnight Saturday. Sunday is a quite day for reflection. Polls open on Monday morning.
The people of Azerbaijan are voting in a referendum which will bring into force a number of constitutional amendments.
The constitutional package was proposed by the President some weeks ago and includes a number of measures, including setting up the office of vice president and extending the presidential term from five to seven years.
The vote takes place after a lacklustre campaign. Some opposition parties campaigned to reject the constitutional package.
A mission from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is in Baku to assess the situation around the referendum. Earlier the Assembly asked the Venice Commission to give an opinion on the provisions of the referendum. The Venice Commission a few days ago issued a critical preliminary report. A fiull report is expected next month. The Azerbaijani government has dismissed the criticism as unprofessional.
A raft of issues are complicating relations between long time allies Turkey and the United States. But both sides continue using diplomatic back-channels to get as many concessions as possible from each other without fatally harming bilateral relations, argues Benyamin Poghosyan in this op-ed