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Why does this not surprise me. I get the feeling that if the US ever lets the Iraqis get round to electing their own leader, it's going to be interesting. Perhaps Diebold could 'set up' their voting system?
The US on Wednesday defended its decision to recognise the results of Azerbaijan's election and the victory of its close ally, Ilham Aliyev, even as independent monitors sent by the Bush administration to observe the polls denounced them as a "sham".
Washington deepened the controversy over the October 15 election when Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state, telephoned US support for Mr Aliyev two days later - even after police had begun a crackdown on the opposition and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe had bluntly criticised the election.
Human Rights Watch on Wednesday condemned a "massive and brutal political crackdown" by the Azerbaijani authorities. It said hundreds of opposition leaders and activists had been arrested.
Azerbaijan, under Ilham Aliyev's father Heydar, joined the US "coalition of the willing" in the war against Iraq, earning praise from President George W. Bush as a valuable partner in the "war on terror".
Heydar Aliyev, the long-serving ruler of the former Soviet republic who worked hard to ensure a dynastic succession, is seriously ill in a US hospital.
As the conduit for future pipelines carrying Caspian oil and gas to the Mediterranean, by-passing Russia and Iran, Azerbaijan also forms a strategic piece in the US energy jigsaw.
Late on Tuesday, the State Department registered its concern over the elections and called for an independent investigation. But on Wednesday it defended Mr Armitage's telephone call and repeated his claim that Mr Aliyev had given a strong performance.
"His strong performance was a fact," said Adam Ereli, State Department spokesman. "That is recognition of an objective fact."
But monitors returning from Azerbaijan questioned that assertion, saying Mr Aliyev's "victory" over the nationalist opposition candidate, Isa Gambar, had not been a foregone conclusion.
Mr Aliyev was pronounced the winner with 80 per cent of the vote, which was reduced to 77 per cent after some results were cancelled. Mr Gambar is reported to be under house arrest.
Observers said the US embassy in Baku was fully aware of widespread cheating and intimidation at the polls before Mr Armitage placed his call.
The Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe sent 188 observers at the request of the US and unanimously reported falsification of voter lists, intimidation, ballot stuffing and irregular counting.
The polls were a "sham" and could not be called legitimate elections, they said.
-------------------- The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.
And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.
"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.
Exactly . They ain't gonna allow some Shia cleric (in regard to Iraq's Shia majority) take control of the country. I'm curious what the nature of this regime is going to be as everything in the region ultimately boils down to Islam and its religio-centric politics.
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