Incumbent Aliyev retains Azeri presidency

Oct. 9, 2013 at 1:00 PM

BAKU, Azerbaijan, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Exit polls Wednesday from Azerbaijan suggest President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected to a third term in office though questions were raised on fairness.

The Central Election Commission of the Republic of Azerbaijan said thousands of cameras were online at polling stations across the country to monitor the vote. The commission said Aliyev took 83.39 percent of the vote based on an exit poll involving 40,500 respondents. Opposition leader Jamil Hasanli took 8.2 percent of the votes.

The election center said observes conducted the survey "perfectly" and several observers "highlighted the transparency of the present elections."

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the BBC reported independently the incumbent, Aliyev, won more than 80 percent of the vote in Wednesday's contest.

RFE/RL said it was able to report "carousel voting," an instance where groups of votes are bused from one polling station to the next.

Aliyev succeeded his father in 2003. The BBC reported he didn't campaign during the election.

Rights groups were critical of the political climate ahead of Wednesday's contest. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last week said it was concerned by the government's crackdown on the media. The Index on Censorship said Azeri journalists were targeted for reporting events that may paint a bad picture of political society in Azerbaijan.

The OSCE said it would issue a statement on its observations of the Azeri election Thursday.

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