Police in Azerbaijan have broken up an opposition rally aimed at highlighting complaints of vote-rigging in this month’s parliamentary election. Violent clashes erupted when police moved in to disperse the protestors after the demonstration in Baku went beyond its allocated time. Opposition leader Ali Kerimli denied police claims the rally had broken the law. He said a lot of protesters had been injured.
Police used truncheons and water-canon to push back the opposition supporters. Some of them responded by throwing stones and other objects. Opposition parties have been holding frequent demonstrations since the election, which Western observers say was marred by fraud. Until now, the protests had been peaceful. The violent scenes may lead to added foreign pressure on President Ilham Aliyev over democracy in the oil-producing state.