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Azerbaijan's Aliyev wins third presidential term: Exit poll

Preliminary results pointed to another win by Azerbaijan's longtime leader.

Azerielection13Enlarge
Azeri Army officers wait in line before voting on October 9, 2013 at a polling station in Baku during presidential elections. Oil-rich Azerbaijan voted in a presidential election on October 9 that looks certain to see strongman Ilham Aliyev seal a third term, with critics claiming a widespread crackdown on his foes ahead of the poll. (TOFIK BABAYEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Exit polls indicated a big win for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Wednesday's vote, which would extend his grip on power in the resource-rich Caspian Sea nation for another five years.

Aliyev was ahead by nearly 84 percent in a poll run by the independent Prognosis company, according to the Associated Press. Reuters, citing results from a number of Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations, reported a similar figure

A BBC correspondent said the nation's longtime leader didn't even bother to campaign for office, despite facing a united opposition coalition for the first time.

The coalition's candidate, historian Camil Hasanli, reportedly garnered about eight percent of the vote.

The opposition accused the government of rigging the vote, but independent observers — of whom there were about 100 — had not yet reported any major irregularities.

Hasanli told journalists earlier Wednesday that the opposition "registered cases of ballot stuffing at a number of polling stations."

"Regrettably, many government officials are involved in falsification, becoming accomplices of a grave crime," he added, according to the AP.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani Service also found evidence of "carousel voting," in which voters cast multiple ballots at various polling stations.

Aliyev has held power since the passing of his father Heydar in 2003. His administration has been widely criticized for rights abuses — particularly in the run-up to Wednesday's vote.

Constitutionally barred from a third term in office, Aliyev changed the constitution in a disputed 2009 referendum.

Meanwhile, the vote in Azerbaijan has been the subject of much discussion on Twitter:

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/131009/azerbaijans-aliyev-wins-third-presidential-term-exit-poll