Oscar-Winning Playwright Named to Challenge Aliyev in Azeri Vote

An Oscar-winning screenwriter will challenge Azeri President Ilham Aliyev as the representative of the country’s secular opposition in an October election.

The National Council of Democratic Forces nominated Rustam Ibrahimbayov, 74, as its single candidate, the opposition alliance announced today at a meeting in the capital Baku. The candidacy needs approval of the Central Electoral Commission.

If elected, Ibrahimbayov has pledged to oversee a peaceful transition to democracy within two years and ensure free and fair polls in which he won’t seek re-election, according to a statement released by the alliance in May.

Aliyev, 51, who took over from his father in disputed presidential elections 10 years ago, was nominated last month for a third term by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, or YAP. The Caspian Sea nation, where BP Plc and partners have invested more than $40 billion in energy projects since 1994, is the largest oil producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia and Kazakhstan.

Ibrahimbayov, also known as Ibragimbekov in the Russian transliteration of his name, co-wrote with Nikita Mikhalkov the 1994 film “Burnt by the Sun” that won an Oscar for best foreign language movie.

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