Azerbaijan continues to argue about the role of a member of the opposition REAL party in parliament
Opposition politician Erkin Qadirli has become a member of the renewed Azerbaijani delegation of the arliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
There are disputes on social media, with some believing that, having joined the delegation, Qadirli, a member of the Republican Alternative party, will play on the side of the authorities.
This is not the first such accusation against Erkin Qadirli since he was elected to parliament in February 2020.
Opposition members have been a part of this delegation have been before, but, as a rule, they were just puppet opposition members, completely loyal to the authorities.
The only “alien” in parliament
On February 9, 2020, Azerbaijan held early parliamentary elections. Many local and foreign observers, including the OSCE, recognized them as undemocratic and pointed out many violations. Even a few protests took place. The election results were still recognized and accepted as valid.
As a result, only one representative of the “current” opposition, Erkin Qadirli, entered the new parliament. And he ran as a self-nominated candidate, because the REAL party is not officially registered.
Many demanded that Qadirli abandon his mandate in protest of the fraud. But he did not do this, which set many against him.
- Op-ed: Azerbaijan’s glorious victory over the coronavirus – what isn’t adding up?
- Oil and coronavirus – the troubles of the Azerbaijani economy
Savior of reputation or accomplice?
The current delegation of Azerbaijan to PACE includes 12 MPs of the new convocation, headed by the chairman Samad Seyidov, who has been unchanged since 2010. Most of them are either members of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party or are loyal to the authorities.
At PACE meetings, Samed Seidov regularly denies the existence of political prisoners in the country, while the rest of the delegation supports him in this.
Now some are wondering how Erkin Qadirli will behave in such a situation, given that the leader of the REAL party, Ilgar Mammadov, is a former political prisoner himself. He spent more than five years in prison on trumped-up charges, then was released on parole, and only recently, the Azerbaijani authorities, under pressure from the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, acquitted him and lifted his criminal record.
Qadirli considers the fact that he was included in the delegation is an ‘update’ and softening of the status quo.
“I think that perhaps the quality of these relations [ed. between the authorities and the opposition is under] will change for the better,” he said in a recent interview.
Ilgar Mammadov believes that Erkin Qadirldi, by the very fact of his victory in the elections and participation in the composition of this delegation, has helped the government recast the delegation’s very tarnished reputation in the eyes of PACE.
Another former political prisoner, radical left activist Qiyas Ibrahimov, on the contrary, believes that the authorities will use Erkin Qadirli as a cover to continue to “fool the head” of the Council of Europe.
Qadirli has not been included on a committee that oversees the question of political prisoners.