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Opposition alliance set to take to the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital once more


Opposition alliance set to take to the streets of Azerbaijan’s capital once more

azerbaijan protests
Photo: Aziz Karimov

Azerbaijan’s opposition alliance, the National Council for Democratic Forces, will hold a demonstration in the capital Baku today.

The alliance demonstrated on October 19, calling for the government to regain control of the breakaway province of Nagorno-Karabakh, release political prisoners, improve electoral transparency and stimulate the economy. Tens of protesters were arrested, with some claiming they were beaten by police. As with that protest, authorities refused to grant permission for today’s action.

Defamation laws stipulate that people who criticise the government face imprisonment, and Azerbaijan’s 2018 elections were largely described as uncompetitive and unfair. Indeed, 43 journalists, human rights campaigners and political activists were detained in 2018 on election-related charges. Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh also heated up last month when negotiations stalled.

Despite this slew of grievances, Azerbaijan is unlikely to face international pressure on human rights, given its relatively large oil and gas production. Meanwhile, as Azerbaijan upgrades its weapons and military equipment, expect regional tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh to flare. As such, for the time being, the government is unlikely to respond to protesters’ demands.

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