The rally key slogan -‘Freedom for political prisoners’" />

Oppositionists in Azerbaijan fail to agree on holding a joint rally

The rally key slogan -‘Freedom for political prisoners’

‘The National Council of the Democratic Forces of Azerbaijan (NC) has set the date for the opposition’s first rally in 2017’ said Ali Karimli, the Chair of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party (APFP), which is part of the National Council. The rally will be held under the following slogans: ‘Freedom to political prisoners!’; ‘No to brigandage!’; ‘No to corruption!’; ‘No to nepotism!’

The protest rally is scheduled for 9 April and Mahsul stadium in Baku’s Yahsamal district has been chosen as the venue. A notification letter has already been sent to Baku’s executive government.

The National Council’s unilateral decision has caused discontent in the rest of opposition parties.

Elman Fattah, Deputy Chairman of the opposition Musavat Party, reported that the NC’s planned rally hasn’t even been considered in the Musavat Party. “I have no intention to get engaged in those discussions,” ‘The Yeni Musavat’ newspaper quoted Fattah as saying.

Faraj Karimli, another Deputy Chair of Musavat Party, wrote the following on his Facebook page: ‘Our bashqan (chairman) convened a board session on March 17, during which he reported that Emin Huseynov (brother of arrested video blogger, Mehman Huseynov) had suggested holding a joint rally under the slogan ‘Freedom to Mehman Huseynov and other political prisoners’. We were positive about the offer. However, other parties decided to hold individual rallies. We wish them good luck.’

Natig Jafarli, an Executive Secretary to the Republican Alternative (ReAl) opposition movement, reported that ReAl wasn’t going to join the rally as an organization, but the movement members were free to decide themselves whether to participate in the rally or not. No particular instructions would be issued in this regard,” news agency reports.

Siyavush Novruzov, Deputy Executive Secretary of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party, sharply criticized the National Council’s decision. ‘There is no public order for holding such a rally. They have no contact with people. They are just sitting in their virtual world, rather than in the community. This rally has been directly ordered by pro-Armenian forces, by those who dislike Azerbaijan,” Yeni Musavat cited Novruzov as saying.

The National Council of the Democratic Forces of Azerbaijan was set up in 2013, ahead of the presidential election. Rustam Ibragimbekov, a renowned screenwriter and producer, was the first person to chair the council. However, due to his Russian citizenship, he couldn’t stand for presidency and Jamil Hasanli, a historian, was nominated as the organization’s presidential candidate. According to the official data, Hasanli gained 5,5% of votes in the 2015 presidential election.

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