Opposition groups Nida, ADW, and D18 have joined a growing number of parties and organizations who will boycott the snap presidential election in April. Earlier, REAL, Musavat, Umid, and the National Council of Democratic Forces had announced plans to boycott the election.
In a statement, the Azerbaijan Democracy and Welfare (ADW) Movement criticized President Ilham Aliyev’s decree moving the presidential elections up six months from October to April. The decree, according to ADW, is “another attack on democracy” and “a disrespect to voters and the people as a whole.”
"The ADW Movement believes that the ruling party nominating the incumbent president for a fourth time will further reinforce authoritarianism, not democracy, in this country in the 'Year of Republic,'” the statement reads, referring to the 100th anniversary of Azerbaijan’s independence in 1918. “Such a development will further deepen the existing political confrontation in our society as well as social and economic problems, and pave the way for the international community to oppose us in the settlement of our greatest problem, Karabakh, inflicting major damage on our state's international standing."
Also joining the boycott, the Nida Civic Movement released a statement criticizing the government’s attacks on independent media, pressure on opposition parties, and political arrests, including the imprisonment of Ilgar Mammadov, a presidential candidate.
“Considering all this, the Nida Civic Movement declares that there are no free or democratic conditions for an election to be held in this country, and we will not recognize the outcome of the snap presidential election on 11 April.
The Democracy 1918 (D18) Movement has also joined the boycott. "The constitutional amendments passed in 2016 gave the president the right to schedule early elections,” their statement reads. “Without holding a public debate, without providing strong reasons to society, and taking advantage of his powers, Ilham Aliyev brought the election six months forward. This has limited the opportunities for political institutions to run in the election. It is a logical result of totalitarian governance that this sudden decision was taken without a consultation being held with the public."
On 5 February, Ilham Aliyev signed an order moving this year’s presidential elections to 11 April. The elections had originally been scheduled to take place on 17 October.
The president was granted the power to call early elections by a controversial constitutional referendum in 2016. The amendments also extended the presidential term from five years to seven.
President Aliyev has been nominated for reelection by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party.