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U.S. Disappointed By Azerbaijani Presidential Vote, Wants Probe

Washington, 22 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The U.S. State Department has said it is "deeply disappointed" by Azerbaijan's presidential election and has called for an investigation into allegations of voter intimidation and ballot-box stuffing. However, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said Washington will work with the government of Ilham Aliyev, who was elected on 15 October to succeed his ailing father Heidar Aliyev as president of the oil-rich country.

In a written statement yesterday, Ereli described a series of "serious deficiencies" in the election, including the lack of a level playing field, police violence in the pre-election period, and partisan election commissions.

Ereli also repeated U.S. concerns about what appeared to be a wave of politically motivated arrests over the weekend. Police arrested hundreds of opposition supporters, officials, and heads of parties.