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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005, 15:01 GMT
Thousands in fresh Azeri protest
Thousands of protesters marching  through Baku
A rally last week drew 20,000 - fewer than the opposition hoped
Tens of thousands of demonstrators have protested in the Azeri capital, Baku, against the results and conduct of the 6 November parliamentary election.

Protesters say the poll was rigged. International observers say it fell below democratic standard.

Some demonstrators called for a permanent protest in the capital until the election results are annulled.

Several hundred riot police watched the rally, the largest yet. Two previous protests passed off without incident.

The authorities agreed to recounts in five out of 125 electoral districts, and are investigating fraud in more than 10 others.

However, they say any changes will not affect the official result, which is due to be announced on 26 November.

Stand-off

Up to 30,000 people attended the rally. At least 20,000 people attended the two previous protests.

Demonstrators, many wearing orange clothing and carrying orange flags in reference to last year's protest-led "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, called for President Aliyev to step down.

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev leaves a voting booth
President Aliyev says there will be no revolution

"We will move towards our goal and achieve regime change," opposition leader Isa Gambar told the crowd, the AFP news agency reported.

"These elections were won by the opposition. The people won," he said.

One protester held a poster reading: "Bush, why are you keeping silence?"

Many wanted to stay overnight, but opposition leaders told them to go home peacefully to avoid confrontation with police, who have violently beaten demonstrators in the past.

However, the opposition has warned it may not abide by government restrictions on demonstrations when the official election results are published in a week's time.

Freedom of assembly in Azerbaijan is limited - a government permit is required to rally, and demonstrations cannot last longer than two hours and are not allowed in the city centre.

Oil interests

The opposition has appealed to the courts and is waiting for a ruling on the legitimacy of the election results.

However, Mr Aliyev's government shows little sign of giving in, says the BBC's Natalia Antelava in Baku.

And some in Azerbaijan believe the opposition has lost its chance of bringing serious change.

The major opposition parties won 10 out of 125 parliamentary seats.

President Ilham Aliyev's ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party won half the seats and controls many of those won by independents and smaller parties.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the protests in Baku




SEE ALSO:
Azerbaijan protest draws 20,000
13 Nov 05 |  Europe
Azeri ruling party 'wins' polls
07 Nov 05 |  Europe
Q&A: Azerbaijan votes
04 Nov 05 |  Europe


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