Azerbaijan’s main opposition parties yesterday organized a march and rally in a Baku suburb as part of their campaign to boycott the October 11 presidential election. Attendance estimates ranged from 20,000 to 50,000. The placards, chants and the resolution adopted at the rally included certain demands: (1) resignation of the current authorities, (2) a dialogue between the authorities and the opposition, (3) postponement of the presidential election in order to create appropriate conditions for the election, and (4) liberation of Karabakh from Armenian control. The apparent inconsistencies in these demands reflect the political diversity of the opposition and tactical differences between and within its constituent parties.
On the eve of the rally, the “quintet” of main opposition leaders officially proposed holding talks with President Haidar Aliev, Parliament Chairman Murtuz Alekseriv, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and Supreme Court justices to discuss a three-month postponement of the balloting.
At least four of the five challengers to Aliev endorsed the dialogue proposal, but rejected the demand to postpone the election as tardy and in any case unconstitutional.
Aliev, addressing electoral rallies in Baku and Sumgait on September 26 and 27, questioned the sincerity of the opposition’s call for a dialogue. He commented that the opposition’s participation in the election would have been the most appropriate form of dialogue, and that the “radical” opposition had until now “chosen the methods of pressure.” The president, however, appeared to leave the door to a dialogue open (Turan, Assa-Irada, international agencies, September 25-27).
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