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Azerbaijan: Opposition Threatens To Boycott Referendum

Baku, 17 July 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Azerbaijan's opposition groups today threatened to boycott next month's scheduled constitutional referendum unless President Heydar Aliyev agrees to a list of demands about how to conduct the poll. The demands put forward by the 30 opposition parties and social organizations include a one-month postponement of the referendum, which is now set for 24 August; access for all political parties to television and radio; the presence of foreign observers to monitor the vote; and that voters have the ability to decide on each proposed change individually, instead of approving or rejecting an entire package of changes.

The referendum questions are planned to include whether Azerbaijan should abandon the practice of awarding seats in parliament by party lists, and whether the prime minister, not the speaker of parliament, should be next in the chain of command after the president.