Azerbaijan-Armenia reconciliation possible if apology offered for past atrocities, Azerbaijan presidential adviser tells Arab News

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Updated 05 September 2023
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Azerbaijan-Armenia reconciliation possible if apology offered for past atrocities, Azerbaijan presidential adviser tells Arab News

Azerbaijan-Armenia reconciliation possible if apology offered for past atrocities, Azerbaijan presidential adviser tells Arab News
  • Hikmet Hajiyev rejects allegations that Azerbaijan is deliberately starving ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Says a peace treaty would change the landscape of South Caucasus, but the ball is in Armenian government’s court

NEW YORK CITY: Tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia have escalated sharply in recent months, as each side accuses the other of carrying out cross-border attacks in their long-running dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The two ex-Soviet republics have fought two wars, in the early 1990s and again in 2020, for control of the region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but largely populated by ethnic Armenians.

Despite mediation efforts by the EU, US and Russia and a unanimous call by the UN Security Council in August to resolve their dispute, Baku and Yerevan have been unable to reach a lasting peace settlement.

Now Yerevan has accused Baku of deliberately blocking food and aid supplies to Armenian-populated towns in Nagorno-Karabakh via the Lachin corridor, the sole road linking Armenia to the region.

Armenian authorities and international aid groups have warned that the humanitarian situation for the roughly 120,000 Armenians living there is deteriorating, with shortages of food and medicine.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, Hikmet Hajiyev, adviser to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and the head of the foreign policy affairs department of the presidential administration responded to the allegations.

Hajiyev also described what it would take to secure peace and move on from the atrocities of the past. A good way to start, he said, would be for Armenia to apologize.

Q: The UN Security Council recently discussed the situation in the Lachin corridor, where council members heard that Azerbaijan is blocking the only road that connects Armenia to the 120,000 ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, cutting off food, medicine and other essentials, causing a deteriorating humanitarian situation.

A: These are unsubstantiated and ungrounded allegations against Azerbaijan. There is no strangulation or blockade of the Armenian residents of the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

What Azerbaijan is suggesting is to have multiple roads. And one of the important roads is the Aghdam-Khankendi road. It is much more efficient and has more logistical capabilities to reach out to the Karabakh region because Azerbaijan has completely rebuilt it.

Currently, the Lachin-Khankendi road is operational and functional. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is conducting convoys along this road.

But what we are saying is, let’s open the Aghdam-Khankendi road. It will ensure integration, so Azerbaijan will have direct access to Khankendi and direct contact with Karabakh Armenians who in turn will also have a chance to use Azerbaijan’s major road system to reach other parts of Azerbaijan.

But, unfortunately, the warlords at the helm of the current subordinated Armenian puppet regime in those territories of Azerbaijan are using the humanitarian situation for their own benefit, to prolong their survival as a separatist entity that will not accept Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, and for the benefit of propaganda, disinformation and misinformation of the international community. This has always been their raison d’etre.

We invited them to have a dialogue. But they say no to dialogue. (This is a) destructive attitude. They also say no to food staples or whatever comes from Azerbaijan. This is racism. Because of the origin of the food product, they said they won’t accept it.




Azerbaijani forces reclaimed Fuzuli in 2020, three decades after they lost control of the town to Armenia, finding homes left in ruins and overgrown with foliage. (AN Photo/Ephrem Kossaify)

Q: The ICRC says it has not been able to bring assistance to the population for several weeks and has called on your administration to allow it to resume operations. It has said that under international humanitarian law, all sides must allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for citizens in need. What is your response to ICRC’s call?

A: We have very close cooperation and engagement with the ICRC. They are operating in Azerbaijan.

(The) ICRC also knows this very well, because we are in regular contact, that on Aug. 5 there was a gentleman’s agreement whereby the ICRC would be welcome to use the Aghdam-Khankendi road for its humanitarian convoys.

And in the next 24 hours (from Aug. 31, the day of the interview) we will also ensure the full opening of the Lachin-Khankendi road, but Azerbaijan’s customs and border security and border control regime must be respected.

Unfortunately, since the signing of the Trilateral Statement (of the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia) in 2021, the Armenian side was misusing the Lachin road for shipment of military ammunition, personnel and landmines into Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region.

So Azerbaijan was forced to establish the Lachin checkpoint on its border with Armenia. Azerbaijan cannot afford to have yet another grey zone on its sovereign territory.

But my question is: Why is the illegal Armenian regime resisting the opening of this second road? By all means they are still manipulating the international community’s view.

The road is civilization. The road is culture. Saying no to a road has an element of racism to it. It’s a destructive policy. But the time of occupation is past.




Armenian lorries carrying humanitarian aid for the Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region stranded not far away from an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up at the entry of the Lachin corridor, Karabakh's only land link with Armenia. (AFP)

Q: In August, the former International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo, published a report describing the blockade of the Lachin corridor as genocide. 

“There are no crematories, there are no machete attacks. Starvation is the invisible genocide weapon,” Ocampo said, warning that “without dramatic change, the group of Armenians will be destroyed in a few weeks.” What is your reaction to that report? 

A: First of all, the personality, the honesty of this individual who claims to speak on behalf of justice, is questionable. There are a lot of facts in the international media about him engaging in wrongdoings. But that is not my business.

Second, I do regret that a person who claims to be a lawyer could misuse and abuse the concept of genocide as if he didn’t know what it means. 

Third, he’s biased. Why does he not talk about the genocide and war crimes on a state level committed by the Republic of Armenia against Azerbaijan?

Eight cities of Azerbaijan have been completely destroyed, along with the civilian population. Where is that fact in the Ocampo report? 

Where was Ocampo when in 1992, before Srebrenica, the whole population of Khojaly, Azerbaijan, was massacred by Armenians? 

Who has conducted a genocide against whom? That’s the big question. It is a question that should be answered with regard to one million Azerbaijanis, who have been ethnically cleansed from their land, and who have been living as IDPs and refugees for 30 years.

Why is Ocampo silent with regard to the cultural heritage of Azerbaijan, including Azerbaijan’s mosques that have been completely destroyed by Armenia?




Margarita Khanaghyan, 81 walks past an APC of the Russian peacekeeping force in the town of Lachin on November 26, 2020, after six weeks of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. (AFP/File Photo)

Q: But it is not just Ocampo. There are also other specialized institutions that have already claimed that a genocide is underway in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

Again, the ICJ has ordered Azerbaijan to “take all necessary measures to prevent the incitement and promotion of racial hatred and discrimination, including by its officials and public institutions targeted at persons of Armenian national or ethnic origin.”

A: Under the International Convention on the Complete Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Azerbaijan has also put a very serious plan against the Republic of Armenia at the ICJ. In Armenia, the word Azerbaijani or Turk is used as an insult.

That says a lot about the mainstream thinking in Armenian society. I can provide you with many other examples of ethnic hatred and Azerbaijan-phobia. But the facts on the ground speak for themselves. Armenia has destroyed all elements of Azerbaijan’s cultural, religious and even human heritage in the territories under its occupation.  

Therefore, I do regret that some international media outlets are falling into the trap of Armenia’s political propaganda.

Why are Armenians resistant to taking wheat flour from Azerbaijan? You are asking me a question about ethnic hatred. What is that then? Wheat flour doesn’t have an ethnicity. It’s a food staple that everyone can use. But why are they refusing it?

Q: Moving to peace talks. UN Security Council members remain united in their support for a negotiated solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The war has ended. A statement was signed. Armenians have said Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan. What remains to be done to achieve peace?

A: Azerbaijan really wants to sign a peace treaty and turn the page on the chapter of confrontation and atrocities in this region. We would like to live in peace. But the ball is in the court of the Republic of Armenia. The sooner they understand this reality, the better it will be for everyone.

Armenia’s dirty propaganda against Azerbaijan has derailed us from the path of peace treaty negotiations, on a platform provided by Washington DC, which we very much appreciate. We had achieved very important progress. Almost 70 percent of the document had been cleared. In a sense, we agreed.

Signing the peace treaty will completely change the landscape of the region of the South Caucasus. But you have the prime minister of Armenia on one hand recognizing Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity while on the other hand he still keeps Armenian armed forces in our territory. He still finances the illegal subordinate regime on our territory.




Armenian police officers detain a protestor during a rally against the country's agreement to end fighting with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in Yerevan on November 12, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

Q: Do you think the current confrontation between Russia and some Western countries over Ukraine is impacting the peace prospects between Azerbaijan and Armenia?

A: Unfortunately, we do see elements of the geopolitical rivalry play out in the region of the South Caucasus, and our message also to big powers is: Don’t export your internal political agenda to our region.

What we are also seeing is Armenia becoming, unfortunately, another Syria in our region, as it’s divided among big powers according to their own geopolitical interests.

One mission over there is the EU mission. We have been told it is a civilian, short-term mission. But it has become a long-term one. It has military personnel.

Everybody who wants to contribute to peace and security in the region instead of diplomatic adventurism and propaganda, should engage seriously in supporting Armenian-Azerbaijan peace treaty talks.

Q: Is there a reliable international partner, or a mechanism that would be more efficient than others?

A: There are various platforms. We have no preference for one over the other. Our approach is that anybody who is willing to contribute to real peace on the ground, they are most welcome.

On one side, we have a Brussels process facilitated by (European Council) President Charles Michel. This is very much appreciated. Important elements of the peace treaty talks on a normalization council between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been generated from that platform.

And then we appreciate the US government, and particularly Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s personal engagement on peace treaty discussions. They have done a lot.

We also cannot deny the role of Russia. They are also contributing because they are part of the region and have historical relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.




Azerbaijani forces retook during the 2020 conflict the town of Shusha from the ethnic Armenians who had seized it in 1992 for the Armenian-backed breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. (AN Photo/Ephrem Kossaify)

Q: Do you honestly believe there is still room for a reconciliation process to take place? People in Baku have told Arab News that in the past, Armenians and Azerbaijanis used to be brothers and sisters, living side by side. Will this happen again?

A: It could happen again, but really, it’s always difficult to make a prediction about this in the future. Reconciliation really is one of the most difficult parts of every post-conflict situation. In Azerbaijan, hundreds of thousands of families have lost their loved ones and are refugees and IDPs.

Imagine people are returning to their homes to see them in complete ruins. That’s not easy. And they are searching for answers. There is no answer because no one from the Armenian side has had enough courage to dare say: “(Please) excuse us. Our apologies for all our wrongdoings.”

There was not a single case in Armenia brought against the individuals who have conducted notorious actions against Azerbaijan. Bringing justice to people could also send a positive signal.

Yes, I do think that reconciliation is possible, but of course it will take time. A lot depends on the Armenian side.

I have also carefully studied all schoolbooks and textbooks in the Republic of Armenia. Everything is a hate, hate and hate against their neighbors, and the exclusive superiority of Armenians.

This racist sort of thinking is still dominant in the mindset of Armenian literature, Armenian media and so on.

Q: The Armenian prime minister has said the same thing. That peace is a call that has to come from Azerbaijani people who should demand it from their government.

A: I will ask the prime minister of Armenia, is he ready to say, on behalf of the Armenian people and Armenian government, “(Please) excuse me?” I think that this could change a lot.

Why is Armenia refusing to provide information about the mass graves of 4,000 Azerbaijanis? Who will compensate for the 30 years that have been taken from the lives of a million Azerbaijanis who grew up in refugee tents?


Zelensky urges Biden, Xi to join peace summit

Zelensky urges Biden, Xi to join peace summit
Updated 26 May 2024
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Zelensky urges Biden, Xi to join peace summit

Zelensky urges Biden, Xi to join peace summit
  • Moscow’s forces have in recent weeks advanced on the battlefield and stepped up air strikes on cities
  • Kyiv hopes the June meeting in Switzerland will help pile international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appealed to US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Sunday to join an upcoming peace summit as his country struggles to stave off unrelenting attacks by Russia in its 27-month-old invasion.
Moscow’s forces have in recent weeks advanced on the battlefield and stepped up air strikes on cities, and Kyiv hopes the June meeting in Switzerland will help pile international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In English-language video recorded inside the charred remains of a printing press destroyed on Thursday in a Russian air strike, Zelensky said the summit would “show who in the world really wants to end the war.”
“I am appealing to the leaders of the world who are still aside from the global efforts of the Global Peace Summit – to President Biden, the leader of the United States, and to President Xi, the leader of China,” he said.
“Please, show your leadership in advancing the peace – the real peace and not just a pause between the strikes.
Russia has said it sees no point in the conference to which Moscow is not currently invited.
Zelensky’s comments came two days after Russian sources told Reuters that Putin was ready to halt the war in Ukraine with a negotiated ceasefire that recognizes the current battlefield lines.
Zelensky and Ukraine’s supporters say a ceasefire will only help Russia rearm and regroup.
Russia has in recent months made slow but steady gains along several parts of the sprawling eastern front and is attempting to push deeper into the northeastern Kharkiv region after a ground incursion launched earlier this month.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Zelensky said it was crucial to get as many countries around the table at the peace talks as possible. Putin has said he believes the talks may convert Ukrainian demands for a Russian withdrawal into an ultimatum for Russia.


Taiwan’s president says open to working with China on ‘peace’

Taiwan’s president says open to working with China on ‘peace’
Updated 26 May 2024
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Taiwan’s president says open to working with China on ‘peace’

Taiwan’s president says open to working with China on ‘peace’
  • China launched military games around the island three day last week
  • President Lai Ching-te made overtures to Beijing before his inauguration to resume communications

TAIPEI: Taiwan’s president said Sunday he was still open to working with China on building “mutual understanding and reconciliation,” days after Beijing launched military drills around the self-ruled island in response to his inauguration speech.
President Lai Ching-te was sworn into office on Monday, and China — which claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and regards Lai as a “dangerous separatist” — launched military games around the island three days later.
Fighter jets, naval vessels and coast guard ships encircled Taiwan until Friday night, which Chinese military analysts said was to practice seizing it.
On Sunday, Lai said his May 20 inaugural speech highlighted that “peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is a necessary element for global security and prosperity.”
“I also called on China to jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability with Taiwan,” he said during an event with his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in southern Tainan.
“I also look forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China... and moving toward a position of peace and common prosperity.”
He added that “any country making waves in the Taiwan Strait and affecting regional stability will not be accepted by the international community.”
Lai made overtures to Beijing before his inauguration to resume communications — severed since 2016 after former president Tsai Ing-wen took office.
Like Lai, Tsai is also part of the DPP, which holds a stance of defending Taiwan’s sovereignty.
In response, Beijing has upped military and political pressures on Taiwan, and its naval vessels, drones and warplanes maintain a near-daily presence around the island.
On Sunday, two days after the drills ended, Taiwan’s defense ministry reported that seven Chinese aircraft, 14 naval vessels and four coast guard ships were “operating around” the island in a 24-hour period ending at 06:00 a.m. (2200 GMT Saturday).


Moldova turns to Russia to seek extradition of convicted politician

Moldova turns to Russia to seek extradition of convicted politician
Updated 26 May 2024
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Moldova turns to Russia to seek extradition of convicted politician

Moldova turns to Russia to seek extradition of convicted politician
  • The Victory bloc, made up of four parties, campaigns with the slogan “No to the EU” and calls for Moldova instead to join the Eurasian Economic Union — a Russian-led regional grouping

CHISINAU: Moldova is now seeking extradition from Russia of an opposition politician convicted of mass fraud after he moved there from exile in Israel, the country’s justice minister said on Saturday.
Ilan Shor, a pro-Russian business magnate, was sentenced last year in absentia to 15 years in prison in connection with the disappearance from the banking system of $1 billion in 2014, dubbed Moldova’s “theft of the century.”
Shor has organized noisy street demonstrations against pro-European President Maia Sandu and urged Moldovans to vote “no” in a referendum authorities have called for October on joining the European Union by 2030.
Justice Minister Veronica-Mihailov Moraru said Moldova would redirect its extradition appeals to Moscow after Shor said he had moved to Russia and announced he had been granted Russian citizenship.
“The justice ministry has not been informed of this by the Russian authorities,” she told TVR Moldova television.
“If we are advised officially that he holds Russian citizenship, we will analyze the circumstances and consider how to act in procedural terms.”
Moldova, an ex-Soviet state lying between Ukraine and Romania, had repeatedly sought Shor’s extradition from Israel.
After his conviction, a party bearing Shor’s name was banned by the Constitutional Court and a new party, called “Chance,” was formed in its place.
Shor is the driving force behind the “Victory” electoral bloc launched last month — in Moscow — to oppose the EU referendum and Sandu’s bid for re-election at a poll to be held on the same date.
He said last week he wanted to become prime minister if a president favorable to his views would nominate him.
Sandu denounces Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and describes Russia and corruption as the biggest threats to her country.
The Victory bloc, made up of four parties, campaigns with the slogan “No to the EU” and calls for Moldova instead to join the Eurasian Economic Union — a Russian-led regional grouping.
It has not yet decided on a candidate to run against Sandu. The opposition Socialists and Communists, also friendly to Moscow, oppose the pro-EU referendum but have shown little inclination to cooperate with Shor and the Victory bloc.


Polish students occupy top universities to cut ties with Israeli academia

Polish students occupy top universities to cut ties with Israeli academia
Updated 25 May 2024
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Polish students occupy top universities to cut ties with Israeli academia

Polish students occupy top universities to cut ties with Israeli academia
  • Students set up encampments at the University of Warsaw and Jagiellonian University
  • ‘We consider opposing genocide as our highest obligation,’ students say

WARSAW: Polish students have joined the global movement to end partnerships with Israeli institutions and were occupying the country’s top campuses on Saturday because of Israel’s war on Gaza.
Students and alumni of 12 universities in Poland have been calling on their management to publicly disclose which Israeli academia, research centers, organizations and companies they have been cooperating with and in what scope.
In open letters to rectors, they demanded that the universities “boycott Israeli institutions at the national and international level until the occupation of Palestine ends, recognize the right of Palestinians to equality and self-determination, and recognize the right of return for Palestinian refugees.”
As no action followed from university authorities, on Friday evening they set up encampments at the campuses of the University of Warsaw — the country’s largest academic institution — and of the Jagiellonian University — the oldest and most prestigious.
In a joint manifesto, the protesters said: “We will occupy the university space with our own bodies to demand action ... we consider opposing genocide as our highest obligation.”
Israeli airstrikes and ground offensives in Gaza have since October killed 36,000 Palestinians with more than 80,000 wounded, the vast majority children and women. Many have lost their lives as most of the hospitals have been flattened by bombardment and no medical assistance could reach them.
Protesting students say that failing to oppose the onslaught would mean tacit consent — and complicity.
The University of Warsaw is linked through a research project to the Ben-Gurion University, whose Homeland Security Institute partners with the biggest Israeli arms manufacturers such as Elbit Systems, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. It is also linked to the University of Haifa, which runs special programs for Israeli forces and intelligence.
“As a student, I feel I should have a say in what our university is investing and what its partners are. We know that the university is tied to the Israeli army, forces and apartheid system,” Agnieszka, a sociology student and one of the coordinators of the strike at the University of Warsaw, told Arab News.
“That’s why I’m here ... I hope it will change something.”
Agnieszka was speaking from behind the university gate, which has been locked since Friday evening as campus authorities sealed all entry points, preventing anyone from leaving or getting inside.
People were coming to the gate and the campus fence to bring the students water, food and power banks, and to show support.
While no one could join their encampment anymore, the dozens of students gathered inside believed they could bring change.
“We’ve been protesting since October against the genocide that is occurring in Gaza, and now we’re sort of bringing it closer,” said Nena, who studies at the Faculty of Philosophy.
“We have more direct impact on the institutions we are part of.”
At the same time, 300 km away, students of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow were also locked up at their campus, posing the same demands as those in Warsaw, and vowing that they “will not be indifferent, will not be silent, will not be passive,” as they called for others to join.
“It’s important for me to be here,” Gabriela, an international relations student told Arab News from the Krakow protest site. “It’s important to show solidarity with other encampments around the world, so that authorities can’t ignore our demands any longer.”
The University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University have not engaged in any discussions with the protesters. Neither university commented on whether it would agree to the students’ demands. The spokesperson of the Jagiellonian University said that to “ensure the safety of the strike participants,” there was a person “appointed to monitor the situation.”


Millions of Indians beat extreme heat to cast votes

Millions of Indians beat extreme heat to cast votes
Updated 25 May 2024
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Millions of Indians beat extreme heat to cast votes

Millions of Indians beat extreme heat to cast votes
  • 111 million people vote in election’s penultimate phase
  • Temperature in New Delhi soared to more than 44 degrees Celsius

NEW DELHI: Voters in Delhi braved a sweltering heatwave on Saturday as they queued at polling stations in the penultimate phase of India’s general election.
The voting, which more than 968 million people have been eligible to do, started on April 19. Some of India’s 28 states and eight federally governed territories completed the process in a single day, while others have spread it out.
The sixth phase of the poll covered the capital, Delhi, as well as the neighboring states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar in the country’s east, and Jammu and Kashmir.
In Delhi, voters queued to cast their ballots despite the temperature soaring to over 44 degrees Celsius — with humidity making it feel like 56 C, according to reports — prompting the Election Commission to deploy paramedics to some polling stations.
While there have been concerns over voter turnout — with the first phase estimated to have seen at least 4 percent fewer people take part than in 2019’s election — those who arrived to cast their votes said there was no way the heat could deter them.
“Voting is the only way we can convey our feelings toward governance. It is a decisive way. To spend one hour in the line after five years is not a big deal for us,” said Karan Sharma, who was voting in the East Delhi constituency.
“We were complaining about the heat, but ... it’s a duty, it’s like eating food. After every five years, the festival comes, we have to participate in it.”
For Kavita Wadhwa, who cast her vote in the New Delhi constituency, it was a matter of exercising her rights.
“We have the right to select our own leaders,” she told Arab News. “It’s important for us ... It’s a democratic country.”
The election sees Prime Minister Narendra Modi chasing a third straight five-year term in power, targeting 400 of the 543 parliamentary seats for the National Democratic Alliance led by his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been in power since 2014.
He is challenged by an alliance of two dozen opposition parties — the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), led by the Congress Party, which ruled the country for close to 45 years following its independence in 1947.
Modi’s key contender is Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the son of Rajiv Gandhi, a grandson of Indira Gandhi, and a great-grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru — all of whom were prime ministers of India.
Gandhi also cast his vote in Delhi on Saturday, after which he took to social media to encourage others to follow suit.
“Your vote will not only improve your life but will also protect democracy and the Constitution,” he said on X. “Come out of your homes in large numbers and vote for your rights and the future of your family.”
Around 111 million people were eligible to vote in the sixth phase of the election. Some of them, like Arohi Anand, were voting for the first time.
“I think it’s a great right ... The government is for us — if we don’t vote, it is on us,” he told Arab News. “(The heat) is a secondary thing. The most important thing is our vote, because the government is the most important thing; it will shape our future.”
The party or coalition that wins at least 272 of the 543 contested seats in the lower house of parliament will form the government.
The first five phases of the election have already decided the fate of 429 representatives. Saturday’s vote will add another 58.
The seventh and final phase of the election will be held on June 1. Vote counting will take place on June 4.