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Azerbaijan: Violent Protests In Baku In Wake Of Election

Baku, 16 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Several thousand opposition supporters gathered in Baku today to protest the outcome of Azerbaijan's presidential elections. Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission says that with 94 percent of ballots counted, Ilham Aliyev is on course to succeed his father as president, with 79.5 percent of the vote. His nearest rival, Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar, received only 12 percent.

But the opposition accuses the government of fraud.

Today's demonstration saw Musavat supporters armed with metal bars and rocks, fighting battles with riot police in central Baku, smashing shop windows and destroying cars.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which sent observers to the poll, says it registered numerous violations during the voting.

At a peaceful opposition demonstration last night, police beat and detained a number of protestors.