Demonstrators Rally in Baku to Demand Free Elections Exiled Guliyev on Ballot

MOSCOW (Combined Sources)–A large number of demonstrators rallied in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku Saturday to demand free and democratic parliamentary elections while an opposition leader was registered to run in the November poll.

About 15,000 protesters paraded through the center of Baku to demand changes to the country’s election laws to guarantee a fair parliamentary poll on November 6–the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The rally–organized by the opposition electoral alliance grouping the Musavat party–the People’s Front and the Democratic Party–proceeded without incidents.

Protesters requested equal conditions for all candidates and permission for opposition leaders–including former president Ayaz Mutalibov and former parliament speaker Rasul Guliyev–to return to Azerbaijan without being arrested.

Mutalibov–who served as president in 1991-92–has been living in exile in Russia’since his resignation.

Guliyev–who was the subject of a fraud investigation and has lived in exile in the United States since 1996–faces criminal charges on his return to Azerbaijan.

However–Guliyev–who heads the Democratic Party–was registered Saturday to run in the elections.

Mekhriban Aliyeva–wife of President Ilham Aliyev–is one of 109 candidates from the ruling New Azerbaijan party vying for the 125 seats in the Milli Majlis–the parliament.

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