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Azerbaijan: Opposition Crowds Rally In Baku

Baku, 12 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- An estimated 50,000 opposition supporters rallied today in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, ahead of presidential elections on 15 October. Opposition candidate Isa Gambar addressed the flag-waving crowd and said the time had come to turn away from what he called the corrupt path of President Heidar Aliyev. He called on his supporters to vote and remain at polling stations on voting day until ballots are counted in an effort to ensure a fair count.

Aliyev's son Ilham -- the current prime minister -- is also running in the election, hoping to succeed his 80-year-old ailing father as president. Heidar Aliyev is currently in hospital in the United States, where he is receiving medical care for his kidneys and heart.