IFES Eurasia Programs
IFES programs in Eurasia (former Soviet republics)
In 2006, IFES and the U.S. embassy were involved in the Azerbaijani elections and civil society. In 2007, IFES was instrumental in bringing several parties together to develop an electoral code.
On 30 October 2007, five Azeri parties issues a formal statement complaining that IFES was "an unpopular and unreliable organization and protests to its organizing the authorities-opposition dialogue on the composition of election commissions". A reply by Daniel Blessington, director of IFES on Azerbaijan, was issued the following day.
Part of the problem with IFES's participation in changing the electoral law has to do with including many groups in the deliberations, some of which are minor players. On 6 November 2007, the co-chairman of one of the leading parties announced that his party would no longer participate in the IFES instigated meetings. He stated: "According to Karimli, the meetings will involve 17 or 18 parties. Therefore, Azadlig refused to participate." The Azadlig bloc only wants to have groups which garnered more than one percent of the vote present, and this would eliminate some of the groups pushed by IFES.
Around the 10 November 2007, it became evident that the main Azeri parties revolted and rejected the input from the Council of Europe and IFES. It is also quite likely that it was IFES's input that was most resented.
- Venice Commission, IFES and Azerbaijani Central Election Commission will hold roundtable on amending Electoral Code in Baku, 7 November 2007.
- IFES Azerbaijan Chief of Party: "We have sent invitation to several parties to attend the debates on the composition of election commissions, Azeri News Agency, 8 November 2007.
- Ruling New Azerbaijan Party’s Executive Secretary Urges All Proposal on Formation of Election Commissions Cannot be Taken into Consideration, Trend News, 12 November 2007. "Opposition Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA), Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), Liberal Party of Azerbaijan (LPA), and Musavat are not in attendance. They avoided participation in protest against expanded format of the event and its being organized by IFES. The Parties urge only they four should participate in the discussions and election committees should include only them and the governing party. 'New Azerbaijan does not want Azerbaijan to become an area of political test. The formation of election commissions as well as the elections is the internal affairs of country. As population decide the course of each election,” the MP said. There have been attempts to change the current format of election commissions since 1998 by some internal political parties and international organizations. 'Every time they propose new proposals to change the existed format of election commissions. Such a situation cause serious obstacles to establish the Azerbaijani election legislation,' Ahmadov said."
From a US gov't press release:
- The U.S.-based nongovernmental organization IFES has worked closely with several government and community entities in Armenia to help move the country closer to achieving its goal of having elections that meet international standards. The road to fair and free elections in Armenia with help from IFES began when the organization established its presence in the country in 1996, providing wide-ranging election assistance to the country’s legislators, national and local electoral commissions, candidates, observers, nongovernmental organizations and voters.
In October 2005, IFES began a three-year project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), targeting key segments of Armenia’s electoral system and ways to improve voter registration, voter information and election administration. The new voter registry system began with amendments to the electoral code. Then, the police and its Passport and Visas Department helped make the registry a reality with IFES assistance for the registry's design. Together, IFES and department officials considered how best to meet international norms, create a sustainable system, choose the right technology and promote public acceptance. Finally, Armenian officials installed computer equipment funded by USAID and verified voter lists. IFES also produced more than 60,000 copies of posters and leaflets with nonpartisan messages which were distributed nationwide.
- Navbahor Imamova, Uzbekistan to Hold Presidential Elections in December, VOA News, 7 November 2007.
References and resources
-  Page has scrolled: 31 October 2007
- Representative of CE Office in Azerbaijan: YAP, Motherland and Social Prosperity Parties were also invited to meeting on Election Code, 8 Oct 2007.
- Heads of several Azerbaijani opposition parties make statement questioning seriousness of IFES, Azeri Press Agency, 30 October 2007.
- IFES director on Azerbaijan: We were looking forward to the active participation of the party leaders issuing statement at the roundtable, Azeri News Agency, 31 October 2007.
- Co-chairman of Azerbaijani Bloc States Discussions over Election Code Formal, Trend News, 6 November 2007.
- Discussions over Election Code May be Held in Azerbaijani Format – Venice Commission’s Representative, Trend News, 11 November 2007.
- Armenian Elections Move Forward with Help from U.S. Group, US.State.Info, 6 July 2007.