Thanks to a tweet from Daily Arkansans for news (Washington Post) from Azerbaijan:
Azerbaijan’s big presidential election, held on Wednesday, was anticipated to be neither free nor fair. President Ilham Aliyev, who took over from his father 10 years ago, has stepped up intimidation of activists and journalists. Rights groups are complaining about free speech restrictions and one-sided state media coverage. The BBC’s headline for its story on the election reads “The Pre-Determined President.” So expectations were pretty low.
Even still, one expects a certain ritual in these sorts of authoritarian elections, a fealty to at least the appearance of democracy, if not democracy itself. So it was a bit awkward when Azerbaijan’s election authorities released vote results – a full day before voting had even started.
The vote counts – spoiler alert: Aliyev was shown as winning by a landslide – were pushed out on an official smartphone app run by the Central Election Commission. It showed Aliyev as “winning” with 72.76 percent of the vote. That’s on track with his official vote counts in previous elections: he won (“won”?) 76.84 percent of the vote in 2003 and 87 percent in 2008.
Why should you care? Because leading Arkansas Republicans have endeavored in recent times to make nice with Azerbaijan.
Remember when Secretary of State Mark Martin announced his deep honor at being invited to Azerbaijan for a convention? (Hope he didn’t get tips there on election law. The Voter ID/Suppression law he’s currently overseeing is bad enough.)
Some nabobs from Azerbaijani also visited Little Rock and had a powwow with Martin, Lt. Gov Mark Darr (quick, check his campaign and office expense account) and House Speaker Davy Carter. Martin hoisted the Azerbaijan flag over the Arkansas Capitol on that occasion. Arkansas Republican Reps. Jonathan Barnett and Karen Hopper also stepped up with a resolution, duly approved by the Republican majority legislature, supportive of a good relationship with the country. Sen. Bryan King, the grinch of Green Forest (sorry Berryville, for ascribing him to you originally), offered a companion resolution in the Senate. It marked the anniversary of a massacre in the country.