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President Ilham Aliyev casts his ballot at a polling station in Baku.

Liveblog: Azerbaijan Votes For President

Voters went to the polls in Azerbaijan today. President Ilham Aliyev, who has kept a tight grip on power, is expected to easily win a third term.

13:44 9.10.2013
Suggested Reading

-- "In Azerbaijan's Routine Election, It's The Differences That Matter" -- Arifa Kazimova and Daisy Sindelar, RFE/RL
A win will hand the 51-year-old dynastic heir a controversial but constitutionally approved third term at a time when Aliyev still enjoys unrestrained access to billions of dollars in energy profits and vice-like control over most outlets of dissent with social media -- for now -- being the notable exception. But while the outcome of this week's vote appears secure, the run-up has delivered campaign surprises that may raise hopes about the opposition's ability to rattle the ruling regime in the long term.
Provision of patronage is crucial because of the weak non-material sources of the regime’s political legitimation. The ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) lacks a strong non-personalist ideology or a comprehensive program but relies instead on a loose combination of nationalism and a personality cult created during the lifetime and proliferated after the death of the regime’s “founding father” Heydar Aliyev.
-- "What Lies Ahead for Azerbaijan" -- Thomas de Waal, Carnegie Endowment

Azerbaijan has come a huge distance from the war-torn, impoverished, newly independent state of the early 1990s. The last few years, following the inauguration of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline in 2006, have seen a dramatic rise in its prosperity. At $70 billion, Azerbaijan’s GDP is now more than twenty times bigger than it was in the mid-1990s. The country has also made its mark on the international arena in a variety of ways. It began a two-year term on the UN Security Council in January 2012 and staged the Eurovision Song Contest in the same year.
-- "Aliyev May Win A Third Term, But A Fourth?" -- Liz Fuller, RFE/RL

Six trends have emerged that may collectively determine the outcome of the 2018 presidential ballot, even if Aliyev’s reelection on October 9 for a third term is a foregone conclusion.
14:04 9.10.2013
It is 3 p.m. in Azerbaijan and the opposition has already claimed irregularities. One clip, sent by a user apparently based in Shamkir, 400 kilometers from Baku, seems to show ballot stuffing (we cannot independently confirm).

Another video, filmed by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, shows a women casting a ballot in several polling stations. This would mesh with complaints from the opposition National Council, which has claimed the government is using so-called “carousels," in which groups of voters are bused to several polling stations to cast votes.

14:08 9.10.2013
As of 12 p.m. Baku time, Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission was reporting 36.8 percent turnout.
14:17 9.10.2013
14:30 9.10.2013
In Beylagan, 260 kilometers from Baku, Fizuli Gahramanli, a regional opposition head, tells our Azerbaijani Service he was beaten after appearing at a polling station for Hasanli. He said that after a dispute with an election official, "they insulted me."
"And when I came out they hit me from behind. I wanted to turn around, but then came another blow to the nose. I cannot remember what happened after that. I was covered in blood and couldn't see."

Political activist Fizuli Gahramanli, in a photo taken shortly after he was apparently attacked.
Political activist Fizuli Gahramanli, in a photo taken shortly after he was apparently attacked.

14:47 9.10.2013
The big story among opposition members so far actually unfolded late last night. In what is being called "AppGate," the opposition Meydan TV reported that a mobile app released by the country's election commission had already showed the election results. The glitch has since been fixed.

Emin Milli, Meydan TV's managing director, made the claim in English on his Facebook page.

14:53 9.10.2013
From BBC Azeri

14:57 9.10.2013
Huseyin Pashayev, spokesman for the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), speaking today in Baku to RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service:

"According to information which we are receiving from our observers, voting is continuing as normal. International observers have also mentioned that voting is continuing transparently, and in accordance with the law."

"However, the observers and supporters of opposition candidates in the field are trying to commit sabotage. Of course, all of the attempts were prevented. But this kind of information is continuing to come to our office. They are trying to create a vision that there are mass irregularities. They are doing it by using all of the possibilities at their disposal. They are doing these things more actively when they see international observers coming to the polling stations."
15:05 9.10.2013
Via Arzu Geybulla, a blogger and activist who is observing elections today. She says an observer "was kicked out because 'others' didn't like him filming with his camera all the time and peeking over their shoulders." Video on her blog.

15:06 9.10.2013
From Human Rights Watch researcher.

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