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    Aliyev wins 89.04% of vote in Azerbaijani presidential polls - 2

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    The incumbent Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, has gained 89.04% of the vote in presidential elections, with some 70% of the ballot counted, the South Caucasus country's top election official said on Thursday.

    (Adds OSCE comments in paras 7, 8, Russian, opposition reaction in 12-15)

    BAKU, October 16 (RIA Novosti) - The incumbent Azerbaijani president, Ilham Aliyev, has gained 89.04% of the vote in presidential elections, with some 70% of the ballot counted, the South Caucasus country's top election official said on Thursday.

    With around 4.8 million people registered to vote, the turnout stood at 75.65%.

    None of the six opposition candidates have won more than 3% of the vote. The six main opposition parties boycotted the polls, citing a clampdown on dissent, media restrictions, and electoral fraud.

    However, the CIS observer mission recognized Wednesday's elections as "legitimate, open and transparent," mission head Sergei Lebedev said on Thursday.

    "The CIS [observer] mission believes that the elections were, firstly, held in compliance with Azerbaijan's election laws. Secondly, they were legitimate, open and transparent, and thirdly, we think the elections will contribute to the further democratization of Azerbaijan," Lebedev said.

    The monitoring mission by the CIS, an alliance of former Soviet republics, included 394 people, including 23 long-term monitors, who attended voting at 70% of polls across the country.

    A group of 40 U.S. observers comprising journalists, congressmen and political analysts also described the polls as "free and just."

    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which dispatched 385 observers to the polls, praised the organization of the poll but was more critical about the election as a whole.

    "There were notable improvements in the conduct of this election, but additional efforts are necessary to meet crucial international commitments, especially those related to pluralism, the fairness of the campaign environment, and the media," said Boris Frlec, head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission.

    Vasily Istratov, the Russian ambassador to Azerbaijan, said Thursday that he was satisfied with what he described as "obvious" results of the elections, and the way they were organized.

    "Over the past five years the country has made progress in all directions, and this progress was seen in the polls which were held calmly and well-organized," he said, referring to what he called "unbiased" monitors.

    Aliyev took over as president when his father, Heydar, stepped down in 2003, subsequently winning 76.84% of the vote in that year's presidential election.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev congratulated Aliyev on his victory and wished him success, while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin voiced the hope that bilateral ties would actively develop.

    Authorities in Baku have denied an opposition organization permission to hold a rally Saturday in the city center, a representative said.

    The Opposition Cooperation Center, comprising several political parties that boycotted the elections, called the polls illegitimate and said they did not meet international standards.

    "Illegal election technologies were practiced at the elections. As earlier at Azerbaijani elections, local power bodies gathered residents together and brought then to polling stations on buses, indicating who they should vote for," Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said at a press conference in Baku.

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