The opposition in Azerbaijan has won a small battle in its war to overturn the result of Sunday’s parliamentary elections. Bowing to stinging criticism of the poll by Western observers, the Central Election Commission has ordered re-runs in two disputed constituencies. They said they were looking at serious reports of fraud in others after the ballot handed President Ilham Aliyev’s supporters a huge majority.
The ex-Soviet country of some eight million people is strategically important to the West and, with its Caspian Sea reserves, a major oil supplier. Aliyev has said that despite some problems, the vote was fair. OSCE observers said that nearly half the counts they had watched were “bad or very bad.” The opposition is planning mass protests from Wednesday, although analysts said they would be short-lived, with no prospect of a Ukraine-style revolution.