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Thursday, November 03, 2005

President Comments on Arrests of Former Azeri Officials

Baku Today 01/11/2005 - "If anyone takes unlawful actions in Azerbaijan, they will be undoubtedly prevented. Everyone is equal before the law," said President Ilham Aliyev commenting on the recent arrests of several cabinet ministers and high-ranking officials on charges of involvement in a coup plot. "The rule of law is a key condition in Azerbaijan. We are building a legal state and the law should be equal for everyone, including rank-and-file citizens, ministers and politicians. All these issues should be therefore addressed from this standpoint", the President told reporters, Assa-Irada reported today. Aliyev said that the processes planned shortly before the November parliament elections could have complicated the situation in the country. "Stand-off could have taken place in the country. This was prevented," said the President. Opposition supporters took to the streets on October 17, just hours ahead of the anticipated arrival to the country of ex-speaker Rasul Guliyev living abroad. Prosecutors have established a link between the arrested officials and Guliyev's plans to stage a forceful change of power by organizing massive public riots. The ex-speaker faces long-standing charges of embezzling large quantities of state funds while in office in the early 1990s. President Aliyev said that the November 6 poll will be held in a suitable environment. "There is every ground for a fair and democratic conduct of the elections and the election campaigns are successfully underway. I hope the election day will also pass normally and the will of the people will be reflected in the polling results." The President said that the ruling New Azerbaijan party stands the greatest chance at the polls. He also dismissed reports suggesting that the opposition is funded from foreign sources. "To raise its rating, the opposition is spreading erroneous information that is supported by someone from the outside. First of all, our policy should be and is made in Azerbaijan. It is a fully independent policy."

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