It was a long expected move, but, when it came, the anger was no less intense. On August 27,Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission rejected Oscar-winning screenwriter Rustam Ibragimbekov as a candidate for president in the country's October 9 vote.
It based its reasoning on Ibragimbekov's dual citizenship (he also holds a Russian passport) and on its assertion that he is not a permanent resident of Azerbaijan.
For the past 10 years, the commission alleged, Ibragimbekov has lived in Azerbaijan for only 1,163 days, and has "obligations" to Russia, the pro-government Trend news agency reported.
Ibragimbekov has submitted paperwork for the revocation of his Russian citizenship, but the choice depends on the Kremlin, which does not appear particularly eager to help matters along in time for the election, a race which could have set Ibragimbekov against incumbent Azerbaijani Ilham Aliyev.
Meanwhile, in response to the commission's decision, the 74-year-old screenwriter stated that he will sue. "My homeland is Azerbaijan, and, like any citizen, I have a right to submit my candidacy" for president, Haqqin.az reported him as saying.
The baton could now pass to Jamil Hasanli, whom the National Council, Azerbaijan's largest opposition bloc, tapped last weekend as a back-up candidate for Ibragimbekov. Hasanli's papers were submitted to the Commission on August 24. A decision on whether or not Hasanli can pass on to the next stage of candidacy registration -- gathering voter signatures -- is expected this week.
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