BAKU (Reuters) - Azeri police on Tuesday detained more than 20 opposition and independent candidates protesting against snap parliamentary election results that were also criticized by international observers.
Protesters wrapped in blankets were sitting on the pavement outside Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission (CEC) building when riot police detained all participants and put them on buses.
Police officials were not available to comment.
According to the CEC the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) party won 70 out of 125 seats in the single-chamber parliament, with nearly all other seats going to small parties and independents loyal to President Ilham Aliyev.
International monitors found widespread procedural violations in a vote count that they said raised doubt about the honesty of the election. Aliyev called the vote nine months early to consolidate his authority and speed economic reforms.
The opposition said the vote was marred by widespread violations, including ballot box stuffing.
“We demand the cancellation of the election results in all 125 constituencies and the arrest of all those responsible for violations,” Rabia Mamedova, an independent candidate, told reporters at the protest, describing the demands of several opposition and independent candidates who lost to rivals from the ruling party.
Reporting by Nailia Bagirova and Margarita Antidze; editing by Grant McCool