Washington, D.C., September 22, 2005 - Exiled Azeri opposition leader Rasul Quliyev urged his countrymen today to vote in Azerbaijan's parliamentary elections on November 6. Quliyev, who plans to end his exile and return to Azerbaijan in early October to run for parliament, made the comments during an interview with the Voice of America (VOA). VOA's Azerbaijani affiliate station ANS TV also aired the interview.
Quliyev, who is chairman of the Azerbaijan Democratic Party, said, "It is the duty of every Azerbaijani to vote in democratic elections." He went on to say that if the elections are fair, his party would win a clear majority of the vote.
Quliyev last served as Speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament. In 1996 he fled Azerbaijan after being charged with misappropriating funds, a charge he denies. He has lived in political exile in the United States ever since.
Election officials cleared Quliyev to run for office on August 27. Two days later, however, government prosecutors stripped him of the immunity he received as a candidate. The Minister of Interior stated that he would be arrested upon arrival in the country. Quliyev said he is not deterred: "I have heard such statements many times before, and I am not threatened by them. They don't have any legal basis."
VOA airs 30 minutes of radio daily in Azerbaijani, plus NewsFlash, a six-minute weekday TV news feed, and a biweekly interactive with ANS TV. Programs are available at www.VOANews.com/Azeri and www.VOANews.com/Azerbaijani.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages.
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