[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 19:44 GMT
Thousands join Azerbaijan protest
Police and protesters
Riot police were on duty as protesters gathered in the square
Thousands of opposition supporters in Azerbaijan have taken to the streets to demonstrate against the results of Sunday's parliamentary elections.

The elections, won by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, were criticised by international observers.

The government of President Ilham Aliyev allowed the opposition to hold a three-hour rally in the capital, Baku.

Facing accusations of fraud, Mr Aliyev sacked two local officials for allegedly interfering in the elections.

'Serious fraud'

Election officials have ordered re-runs in two districts and one recount.

About 15,000 protesters attended the march and rally, many wearing or waving orange flags in a reference to the success of the "orange revolution" that brought President Victor Yushchenko to power in Ukraine after disputed elections.

The numbers fell far short of the 30,000 to 50,000 the opposition had hoped for.

But leaders said hundreds of other supporters had been stopped from joining the rally.

Thousands of protesters marched through Baku
We are giving the government one chance today to accept a crime was committed in the elections being rigged, and to fix its mistake
Sardar Jalaloglu
Democratic Party

Hundreds of riot police kept a close eye on the protesters but the demonstration ended peacefully.

The BBC's Natalia Antelava, in Baku, said many young people wanted to stay overnight after the rally. But opposition leaders called on people to go home after the permitted three hours was up, to avoid confrontation with the police.

However, they also said that they would continue taking to the streets until the results of this election were annulled.

Sardar Jalaloglu, of the Democratic Party, said the opposition would give the government a chance to correct its mistakes.

"If the people's will is not fulfilled... we will go into the streets with a total demand for [the government's] resignation," he told the crowd.

As well as the two re-runs and one recount, President Aliyev has also promised to punish those responsible for fraud.

Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Council of Europe and the US state department said the elections on Sunday did not meet democratic standards.

They said there was serious fraud in the conduct of the poll - including intimidation, stuffing of ballot boxes and violations in counting procedure.

Opposition members explain why they are protesting

Azeri ruling party 'wins' polls
07 Nov 05 |  Europe
Q&A: Azerbaijan votes
04 Nov 05 |  Europe
Dead leader still guides Azeris
01 Nov 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Azerbaijan
08 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific