Former Azeri President Elchibey Dies in Turkey

ANKARA (Reuters)–Former Azerbaijan President Abdulfaz Elchibey died in a Turkish hospital of prostate cancer early on Tuesday–Azerbaijan embassy officials told Reuters.

Elchibey–a nationalist academic who campaigned against Soviet rule in the oil-rich Caucasian republic–became the second president of independent Azerbaijan in 1992.

His rule saw massive battleground defeat in the war with the breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh ending with Karabakh Armenia’s controlling both the province and much of Azerbaijan proper. Some one million Azeris became internal refugees.

He was then overthrown in a 1993 military coup which resulted in the country’s present leader–President Haydar Aliyev–coming to power. Aliyev soon signed a cease-fire with the breakaway province.

Fleeing the military revolt–Elchibey spent four years in internal exile in his home province of Nakhichevan before returning to the capital Baku in late 1997.

"There is an order by President Haydar Aliyev," Anatolian Azeri ambassador Mehmed Aliyev as saying. "His (Elchibey’s) body will be taken to Baku with a state ceremony–fitting for a former president."

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