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Monday, August 01, 2005

 

Azerbaijan: Demonstrators call for free elections

From Baku Today:

Over a thousand supporters of the
opposition staged a series of rallies in cities across Azerbaijan on Saturday
to call for free elections in the former Soviet republic.

Brandishing orange flags recalling the "orange revolution" that toppled an entrenched pro-Moscow government in Ukraine last year, around 150 people rallied in Azerbaijan's second largest city Ganja, chanting "Free Elections!"

The authorities in the oil-rich Caspian state have only recently allowed
the opposition to hold demonstrations, relaxing a crackdown on opposition
rallies, but outside of the capital Baku gatherings have until now been rare.

Azadliq (Freedom), a block of three of Azerbaijan's largest opposition
parties, plans to field some 125 candidates in parliamentary elections
scheduled for November 6.

Azadliq told AFP in Baku that opposition supporters had demonstrated in
four towns at venues approved by the authorities, with over 1000 people
attending a rally in southeastern Saatly.

A demonstration organized by the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan gathered 500
supporters in Baku.

In Ganja however, opposition leaders complained that police had restricted
access to a rally, a charge local police officials denied.

Half a dozen protestors were arrested but later released when they tried to
demonstrate at unapproved sites in two other Azeri towns, according to Arif
Gadzhily, deputy head of Azadliq's Musavat party.

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