Azeris are voting in a presidential election in which Azerbaijan’s two-time President Ilham Aliyev looks sure to secure a third straight term at the helm of the oil-rich country.
Aliyev enjoys high popularity ratings at home, but human rights groups accuse his government of subverting democracy and engaging in high-level corruption.
Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, said this election had been plagued by vote-rigging.
“Many public sector workers were given ballot papers that had already been filled in.They were told to cast those, then bring back the clean ballots to keep their jobs,” Yunus said.
Azerbaijan’s strategic location between Russia and Iran has been cited as a reason why the international community has not spoken out more over problems there.
Amnesty International says the image Azerbaijan presents of a country respecting human rights “could not be more different from the reality”.