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President Aliyev Will Not Contest Upcoming Azerbaijan Election - 2003-10-02


The ailing president of Azerbaijan, Haydar Aliyev, says he is not going to contest this month's presidential elections. Instead, he is supporting his son, the current prime minister, who is also a candidate in the presidential race.

In a televised message, President Aliyev said he was withdrawing his candidacy from the election in favor of his son, Ilham Aliev.

The address was taped in Cleveland, Ohio, where the 80-year-old president has been undergoing treatment for heart and kidney ailments. He has not been seen in public since July, after he collapsed on live television.

The Russian news agency, Interfax, reported Mr. Aliev said his decision was based on the poor state of his health, and that he urged the people of Azerbaijan to vote for his son. He said his son is well qualified for the job and has broad knowledge of political and economic issues.

The president appointed his son, Ilham Aliev, as prime minister less than two months ago. The decision brought a wave of criticism from opposition groups, which charged the president with trying to build a dynasty.

Heydar Aliyev has been a dominant figure in Azeri politics for decades, and was widely expected to win another term in the October balloting.

Nine candidates are expected to participate in the election.

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