Azerbaijan Aliyev: Opponent Hasanli wants vote annulled

Ilham Aliyev has been president of Azerbaijan since 2003

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The main opposition candidate in Azerbaijan has called for the results of Wednesday's presidential election to be cancelled over alleged vote-rigging.

Ilham Aliyev officially won re-election for a third term, with official results giving him more than 80% of the vote.

Jamil Hasanli said the election was not free and fair because of electoral fraud and government control of all television channels.

European observers found the election had been "seriously flawed".

The election was "undermined by limitations on the freedoms of expression, assembly and association that did not guarantee a level playing field for candidates", the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said in a press release.

OSCE observers reported "clear indications of ballot box stuffing" in 37 polling stations and took a negative view of counting at 58% of the polling stations they inspected.

Crackdown

According to the latest results available, Mr Aliyev won 85% of the vote to 5% for Mr Hasanli.

The Aliyev family has ruled the energy-rich ex-Soviet state for two decades.

Jamil Hasanli at a rally in Baku, 22 September Jamil Hasanli was the main opposition candidate

Human rights groups say the government cracked down on its critics in an unprecedented campaign of repression in the run-up to the vote.

Mr Aliyev, who enjoys immense power after inheriting the presidency from his father in 2003, abolished a two-term presidential limit in a controversial referendum in 2009.

But political opposition in the country of nine million has also been blunted by prosperity, with oil wealth more than tripling gross domestic product.

The president has courted Western states attracted by its strategic location and status as a producer and transporter of oil and gas.

Oil multinationals BP, ExxonMobil and other Western companies have invested billions of dollars to tap into Azerbaijan's oil riches.

An oil pipeline supported by the US and the European Union to pump Azerbaijani crude oil via Georgia to Turkey - bypassing Russia - went into operation in 2005.

The pipeline is seen as an important part of the West's aim of reducing Europe's dependence on Russian energy resources.

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