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Azerbaijan's Vote Continues Amid Alleged Fraud

17 December 2004 -- Voting is continuing today in Azerbaijan, with citizens casting ballots to elect local officials to some 2,700 municipal councils.

But the three biggest opposition parties are boycotting the election and another opposition party that is participating alleges numerous violations in the vote.

The Azerbaijan National Independence Party said some citizens were barred from voting while observers were expelled from several polling stations early today. The party's representatives also reported incidents of ballot-box stuffing.

The three major opposition parties said in a joint statement they would boycott the vote, arguing that the government controls election officials and that the election law is undemocratic.

President Ilham Aliyev today said it was impossible to hold what he called a "normal dialogue" with the opposition leaders.