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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 September 2005, 00:27 GMT 01:27 UK
Azeri opposition rally for poll
By Natalia Antelava
BBC News, Baku

Protesters in Baku
Protesters threaten to carry out a Ukraine-type revolution

Thousands of opposition supporters in Azerbaijan took to the streets to demand free and fair parliamentary elections in November.

Two thousand candidates have already registered for 125 seats in the country's parliament.

Observers believe this will be a crucial vote for the future of this oil-rich state.

"Down with poverty," they shouted in the streets of Baku, with slogans reading "we want free elections".

Many demonstrators wore orange T-shirts and waved orange flags.

This is the colour Azerbaijan's opposition has borrowed from the Orange Revolution in Ukraine - the peaceful protests which brought the opposition to power there earlier this year.

Peaceful revolution is what Azeri opposition leaders say they will push for if the November poll is not free and fair.

President Ilham Aliev promises that it will be.

But at the rally on Saturday many said they had heard this promise before.

Power cuts speech

Azerbaijan's last election, international monitors say, was marred by fraud and violence and the country's poor democratic record has not improved since.

Corruption, observers say, is rampant, political arrests commonplace and the media is regularly censored.

But the leaders did not get a chance to speak on Saturday.

Just as they were about to address the crowd the loudspeakers stopped working due to a sudden power cut.

Many demonstrators were angry and blamed the authorities.

Still many said they would be back on the streets before polls open on 6 November.

Azeri opposition leaders jailed
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Country profile: Azerbaijan
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Timeline: Azerbaijan
12 May 04 |  Country profiles

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