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Azerbaijan: Ruling Party Ahead In Elections

Baku, 6 November 2000 (RFE/RL) - Initial results show Azerbaijan's ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party has taken a wide lead in yesterday's parliamentary elections. The election commission in Baku said that with about a quarter of the votes counted, the ruling party has won 75 percent of the votes. The opposition was lagging far behind. Musavat, the largest opposition party, had won 4.5 percent, and the two other parties taking part in the poll had 4 percent and 3.6 percent of the votes counted so far. According to Azerbaijani legislation, a party needs at least 5 percent to be represented in parliament.

One of the key opposition leaders, Etibar Mamedov of the Party of National Independence, accused the leadership of having bribed members of the local and regional electoral commissions to manipulate the vote for the 125 seats in parliament.

Some 300 international observers were on hand to monitor the vote. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent nearly 200 observers. Its final conclusions are due to be announced today. Gerard Stoudmann, head of the OSCE human rights office ODIHR, told Reuters there was some ballot stuffing and some observers were not allowed to monitor counting.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced later in the day.