Undexpected defeat of Azerbaijanis, the largest ethnic minority in Georgia, in the elections casts doubt over the second round of the parliamentary elections in the country. Although the candidate of the opposition United National Movement Party Ahmed Imamquliyev was predicted to be elected in re-election held in the single-mandate constituency in Marneuli province, which is densely populated by Azerbaijanis, the results were in “favour” of Tamaz Naverian – the nominated candidate of the ruling Georgian Dream Party.
Though Ahmed Imamquliyev had gathered about 48 percent of the votes in the first round of the elections, in the second round only 27 percent of the total vote was counted for him. This was the outcome of election in only one constituency, but it was an important process for us and for the Azerbaijanis living there. We were all excitedly observing Ahmed Imamquliyev’s and Samira Ismayilova’s electoral struggle. This event was also important in terms of several results:
- A new stage in the life of Azerbaijanis living in Borchali
First of all, I’m noting that the parliamentary elections held in Georgia have shown significantly qualitative changes in the organizing of our compatriots living there. As to Ahmed Imamquliyev, his election was beyond doubt, since he gathered 48 percent of votes in the first round.
In Azerbaijan, people observing Ahmed Imamquliyev’s and Samira Ismayilova’s electoral activities have discovered them again. Though their brilliant victories were stolen, they were able to demonstrate how to conduct the election campaign and managed to overcome the ruling party’s candidates who had an opportunity to use administrative resources.
Samira Ismailova’s and Ahmed Imamquliyev’s performances in the election process are indicators of our compatriots’ being politically active and alert in the election process held in Georgia. We believe that such professional and influential politicians who are loyal to democratic values will serve as a stimulus for further active participation of Azerbaijanis in the political environment of Georgia, and be able to strengthen their positions.
- Democracy in Georgia turns aside from its straight course.
It is absolutely impossible to accept the official results claiming that, Ahmed Imamquliyev collected only 25 percent of the total votes in the second round. As a person with knowledge about elections and election technology, I can say that it is not real to lose half of the votes within a week. Nothing happened to cause this. On the contrary, Ahmed Imamquliyev collected a high rate of votes in the first-round election and he was actively defended by his supporters.
The case of the candidate receiving the most votes in the first round and suddenly losing 21 percent of them in the second round gives serious grounds for suspicion. Ahmed Imamquliev’s victory was stolen; he was ahead of his opponent, but to make him lose in such a way is an obvious example of election fraud in Georgia.
“The carousel” process, ballot stuffing, turning off the lights, the expulsion of observers and commission members of opposition parties from the polling stations in Marneuli remind us of elections held in Azerbaijan. Perhaps these issues will be investigated in the context of human rights and justice. But facing with these cases in Georgia- ” the island of democracy” of the Caucasus – provokes a sense of regret.
- Azerbaijan government is not concerned about ethnic Azerbaijanis in Georgia.
Another remorseful aspect of this process was the position of the official Baku. On the eve of the elections, Baku “emissaries” were in Georgia and were very pleased with the posing for the cameras with our compatriots’ opponents. Why did they do so? Only they can clarify this. But in any case, such actions are undesirable.
SOCAR’s and Azerbaijan embassy’s employees were involved in the process, the ambassador to Georgia Azer Huseyn and the government official -who is originally from Georgia’s region where ethnic Azerbaijanis live – Ramiz Hasanov were sent to Marnueli, and how ridiculous, their purpose was not to support Ahmed Imamquliyev, but to make him lose to Tamaz Naveriani, who is just a market manager. At least, they could see the Armenian-populated Javakheti where an Armenian candidate won from Saakashvili’s party, even Ivanishvili’s government wa unable to intervene.
In spite of everything, Ahmed Imamguliyev is a real winner and his struggle against the election fraud will lead to creation of conditions for further strengthening of his social and political influence. We are confident that ethnic Azerbaijanis will support such a political figure in future as well.
(The responsibility for the article lies on Samir Asadly)