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Ilham Aliyev Replaces His Father as Azerbaijan's New President - 2003-10-31

In Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has been sworn in as president, taking over leadership of the oil-rich Caspian state from his father. The younger Aliyev won elections that provoked controversy at home and abroad.

Ilham Aliyev took the oath of office while placing his hand on a copy of the country's Constitution, as well as the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

The inauguration comes just a few days after the Constitutional Court in Azerbaijan confirmed the results of an election held two weeks ago.

However the results of the election remain in dispute, with opposition parties maintaining that the vote was rigged. Officially, Mr. Aliyev won with just over 76 percent of the vote.

Widespread rioting after the election led to one death, dozens of injuries and scores of arrests.

Many international observers criticized the election as not being free and fair. They said voter intimidation, ballot-box stuffing and other violations were widespread in the former Soviet republic. The U.S. State Department said the election did not meet international standards.

On Thursday, human rights experts with the United Nations called on the Azerbaijani government to uphold universal standards of human rights, including the right to protest peacefully.

Police were heavily criticized for using excessive force to break up public demonstrations in the days following the election.

Ilham Aliyev takes over the presidency from his father, Heydar Aliyev, 80, who is undergoing medical treatment in the United States.