President Haidar Aliev’s main rivals are all claiming success in the October 11 presidential election, whether they actually ran or not. The “quintet” of opposition leaders who boycotted the election are claiming that the voter turnout fell below the legally required minimum: “Many citizens supported the opposition’s boycott call, and as a result there was no electoral quorum,” the five said in a joint statement (ANS TV (Baku), October 12). This impression contrasts with the view of all observers that the turnout was very high. The observers’ criticisms refer to the vote count, not the turnout. The quintet had decided to abstain from running and seek a low turnout–unlike the challengers who did run, having called for a high turnout in the belief that it would be to their advantage.
The Central Electoral Commission is expected to issue final official returns shortly. Meanwhile, candidates Etibar Mamedov and Nizami Suleimanov each claim to have come in second after Aliev. Each considers himself entitled to face Aliev in a runoff. Their potential opportunity stems from the electoral law’s stipulation that a score of at least two-thirds of the votes cast is required for a first-round victory. Mamedov and Suleimanov describe Aliev’s victory claim as a “usurpation of power,” and threaten to refuse to recognize him as president. They also have declared their intention to challenge the returns in constitutional court. The top leaders among the five–namely, Abulfaz Elchibey and Isa Gambar–never recognized Aliev as legitimate president since 1993 (Turan, Assa-Irada, Mustagil Gazet, October 12-14).
MASSIVE WEAPONS CARGO FOR AFGHANISTAN STUCK IN KYRGYZSTAN.