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Thousands of Azeris Rally to Demand the President’s Resignation

Thousands of opposition supporters demanded the resignation of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev at a rally in the capital Baku today.

Aliyev is seeking a third term in office in the Oct. 9 election. His challenger is Camil Hasanli, a history professor at Baku State University, who was nominated last month by the National Council of Democratic Forces, a coalition of opposition parties and groups. The group’s initial choice, Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibrahimbayov, was disqualified from running for holding Russian citizenship.

“There is a war being fought in Azerbaijan between good and evil,” Hasanli, 61, told the crowd in Baku’s Mahsul stadium today. “This is a war between justice and injustice, between national and anti-national forces. We will win.”

Aliyev, 51, succeeded his father Heydar Aliyev in disputed presidential elections 10 years ago. His family has ruled the energy-rich Caspian Sea nation for more than 40 years.

Azerbaijan ranks among the most repressive countries in the world, in part for its intolerance toward opposition groups, according to Freedom House, a Washington-based democracy advocate partly funded by the U.S. government.

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