Road Map for Soft Transition from Authoritarianism to Democracy
The Public Chamber (PC) wants to see Azerbaijan among developed, modernistic states that are trustworthy in the eyes of the international community and their respective citizens. We consider necessary to carry out urgent and thorough reforms to build a democratic political system and liberal economy, and to attain a jural state and well-developed civil society in Azerbaijan within shortest period of time. With that end in view, we call upon all progressive forces to use their best endeavors to realize this Roadmap. The proposed schedule has been earmarked for one particular time horizon – soft transition from authoritarianism to democracy – and is meant to ensure the transition thereof. The period of transition involves several stages and can last a maximum of two years (before the election of the next President).
First stage: Forming the political basis for transition to democracy
1. A wide-range dialogue is launched between the government and PC, so all issues are solved by virtue of discussions;
2. Repudiation of political confrontation and political persecution. The spirit of reforms and national unity is fostered in the country. With that end in view:
2.1 Political amnesty shall be announced. All prisoners of conscience and political prisoners shall be released and restored in their respective civil and political rights. Guarantee shall be provided for people in political exile to return home. A law on the status of ex-Presidents shall be adopted.
2.2 To support democratic reforms and build public confidence in them, broad and transparent debates, ensuring the participation of IP, shall be embarked on official media, particularly, TV channels. PC shall ensure dissemination of and access to information for all sectors of society on the basis of the principle of equality. To ensure access to the air for the opposition, a separate TV channels shall be set up; the IP’s utilization for that purpose shall be considered.
2.3 The problem with the freedom of assembly shall be solved. A practice of limiting mass actions and holding mass actions in places except for those that are on the reference list, on the basis of notification only, shall be introduced into the law on the freedom of assembly. Freedom (Azadliq) square shall be made available for mass actions.
2.4 Freedom of conscience and belief, including the freedom of wearing hijab, shall be ensured.
2.5 The pressure and limitations on the press and electronic media, including those in the field of Internet, shall be lifted altogether. The law on information shall be liberalized, and the law on defamation shall be adopted.
2.6 NGO registration procedures shall be simplified, and NGO are granted operational freedom.
2.7 Effective measures shall be taken in relation to the fulfilment of the duties of the State to ensure statutory regular activities of political parties. The issue concerning the allocation of premises for central and local representative offices of political parties shall be solved. Budgetary financing of political parties shall be stipulated by the legislation and provided correspondingly.
2.8 The State shall unilaterally ensure the protection of property rights.
2.9 The Karabakh congress shall be convened with participation of the representatives of the government, political opposition, civil society, refugees forced out of the Armenian Republic as well as the internally displaced people from the occupied territories of the Azerbaijan Republic, prominent intellectuals, veterans of the Karabakh war and other necessary people, and the national stance on the issue thereof shall be manifested.
2.10 The international commitments that the Azerbaijan Republic has undertaken pursuant to the interstate agreements to which it is a party, shall remain in force, with the transparency to be secured in relation to the fulfilment of the commitments thereof.
Second stage: Forming legal and organizational basis for transition to democracy
3. The Democratic Reform Council (DRC) shall be set un under the President of the Azerbaijan Republic. A law on DRC shall be adopted.
3.1 DRC shall be composed of the candidates to be nominated by PS, a body representing the official powers and citizen’s movement. Presented at the level of DIS shall be political parties, civil society institutions, media structures, youth movements and experts.
3.2 DRC shall operate without remuneration of its members, on the basis of openness and accountability to the public, and for the defined period of time. DIS shall ensure the development and implementation of thorough reforms.
4. In the field of constitutional reforms:
4.1 Before a new Constitution is adopted, the legal basis for transition reforms shall be ensured by making amendments and alterations to the existing Constitutions.
4.2 The Constitution shall make provision for the forming of the supreme and local self-governing authorities on the basis of mixed (proportional elections – majority voted) system.
4.3 To fully achieve the division of power, enhancement of the authority of the Cabinet of Ministers and Milli Maclis (Parliament) shall be examined.
4.4 To form independent judiciary, the corresponding changes shall be made in the legislation pertaining to the principles of selection and activity of judges, and reestablishment of the bar institution on a democratic basis.
4.5 The Constitution shall make provision for the imposition of limitations on the election of the same person to and procedures for filling an executive post at a governmental body, as well as frequency and term of office.
4.6 To ensure parliamentary oversight of the security sector, the rules of reporting by the corresponding authorities to the Milli Maclis shall be sanctioned.
5. In the field of electoral legislation:
5.1 The practice of forming the elective supreme and local self-governing authorities shall be adopted on the basis of multiparty, mixed, 50:50 (proportional elections – majority voted) system. The increase in the number of parliamentary seats shall be considered.
5.2 To democratize the Elections Code, it shall be altered correspondingly, taking into account the proposals and recommendations by civil society institutions, political opposition and international organizations. Electoral commissions shall be composed of the candidates nominated by the government and opposition on a parity basis.
5.3 The practice of establishment of municipality institutions in charge of large towns and cities, and direct election of the heads of municipalities shall be adopted.
6. In the socioeconomic field:
6.1 Economic-financial amnesty shall be considered. Full guarantee shall be provided for the inviolability of the legalized private property.
6.2 Measures shall be taken to ensure freedom of business activity and improve business climate. An SME ombudsman institution shall be established.
6.3 The concept of a socially oriented state shall be developed and implemented gradually.
6.4 The minimum or base size of wage, pension and social benefits shall be doubled immediately.
6.5 Repayment of the money deposited with banks during the Soviet Union shall start.
6.6 Every citizen shall be provided with direct payments as part of oil income. Oil income shall be used in a transparent, fair and effective way. The membership in the Supervisory Board of the Oil Fund shall change, with renowned citizens, representatives of civil society being admitted as new members. The accountability of the State to the public shall be ensured in that respect.
6.7 Health insurance for children under the age of 18, the poor, disabled/handicapped, and the elderly shall be provided at the expense of the State. Maternity and child benefits shall be restored.
6.8 Abolishment of paid education at public high educational institutions shall be considered. No increase in tuition fees shall be allowed for the leftover period.
6.9 The term of real military service in the armed forces shall be gradually reduced by virtue of an increase in the number of professional service personnel. The right to deferment of military service shall be instituted at each of the tertiary education levels.
7. In the field of anti-corruption and anti-monopoly drive:
7.1 The State Anti-Corruption Commission shall be reorganized on the basis of the principle of forming DRC.
7.2 The officials who are mentioned in serious corruption allegations shall be relieved of their positions, be subjected to investigation, and, before the investigation thereof is over, be not allowed to hold any executive post at the supreme public authority.
7.3 The rules of statement of property, wealth and income by officials and their close relatives shall be adopted.
7.4 The projects financed at the expense of public funds (oil fund, state budget, international borrowings secured by the State) shall be monitored.
7.5 An independent anti-monopoly commission, to be represented by the media and IP, shall be set up and operate in a transparent manner.
7.6 Azerbaijan’s admission to the World Trade Organization shall be expedited.
Third stage: Institution of a legitimate power and completion of transition to democracy
8. Prior to the next presidential elections, off-year elections to the Milli Maclis shall be held.
9. Off-year elections to municipalities and of the heads of municipalities shall be held.
10. Subsequently, presidential elections shall be held.
11. A new Constitution shall be adopted. In the framework of preparation and discussion of the draft Constitution, transition from the presidential model to a parliamentary republic shall be broadly discussed with the public.
Approved at the 27 August 2011 session of pro-democracy Oppositional Public Chamber off Azerbaijan