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Azerbaijan began voting in a presidential election Wednesday that looks certain to see strongman president Ilham Aliyev win a third term, with critics claiming a wide crackdown on his foes ahead of the poll.
Polling stations in the capital Baku opened at 0800 local time (0300 GMT) with small queues of voters waiting to cast their ballots.
Some 5 million people in the tightly-controlled ex-Soviet state are eligible to vote.
Despite refusing to campaign publicly, Aliyev appears a shoo-in as he dominates media coverage in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation.
The 51-year-old leader first came to power in a 2003 vote following the death of his father Heydar, a former KGB officer and Communist-era boss who had ruled the country for 10 years.
Rights groups have accused the authorities of jailing scores of opponents on trumped-up charges as part of an intense campaign to eliminate dissent in the run-up to the vote.