Azeri protesters want Pres. Aliyev to step down

Azeri protesters want Pres. Aliyev to step down
Mon Sep 23, 2013 08:37:58

Azerbaijan's main opposition coalition National Council of Democratic Forces has staged a protest in the capital city of Baku, demanding President Ilham Aliyev’s resignation.

According to correspondents, some 2,000 to 4,000 of Azeri protesters launched a gathering in Baku, calling on the incumbent president to leave the office ahead of the country’s October presidential election.

The protesters also called for free and democratic elections, political reforms and an end to the government’s clampdown on dissents.

Camil Hasanli, 61, has been nominated by the opposition group and is set to challenge Aliyev in the upcoming presidential poll scheduled for October 9. The group’s initial nominee, Rustam Ibrahimbayov, was disqualified from running in the election.

“There is a war being fought in Azerbaijan between good and evil,” Hasanli told the gathering, adding, “This is a war between justice and injustice, between national and anti-national forces. We will win.”

On May 27, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks called on Baku to free all detainees jailed for criticizing Aliyev’s government.

“Journalists, bloggers, activists and other independent thinkers continue to experience severe limitations to their freedom of expression in Azerbaijan,” Muiznieks also said after a three-day visit to the country.

Scores of opposition activists and critics were arrested in Azerbaijan earlier this year following the government’s suppression of a spate of demonstrations.

On September 2, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Azerbaijani government of adopting a “deliberate, abusive strategy” to clamp down on freedom of expression in the Caspian Sea country.