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Azerbaijani Vote Set To Trigger Protests

A voter and his son at a Baku polling station yesterday (epa) 7 November 2005 -- Official results suggest that Azerbaijan's ruling party will emerge victorious from yesterday's parliamentary elections, but the main opposition bloc has alleged massive fraud and vowed to launch protests to annul the results.

Electoral authorities reported today that with 85 percent of votes counted, the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan (New Azerbaijan) party was on track to take about half of the seats in the 125-member Milli Majlis.

The main opposition coalition, Azadliq (Freedom), appeared set to win as few as five seats, according to the results, with independent candidates and minor parties, who could include allies of the ruling party, taking the rest.

Opposition leaders yesterday charged that the elections were massively falsified and that the results did not reflect the will of the people. Opposition leaders said they will launch peaceful protests tomorrow against the vote.

Authorities have denied there were any major irregularities that could have affected the outcome of the vote.

The Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe (OSCE), which sent hundreds of observers to monitor the poll, is due to give its assessment of the vote this afternoon.

Voter turnout was nearly 47 percent, according to election officials.


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