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Earlier this month, presidential elections were held in Azerbaijan, the oil-producing former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea. Incumbent President Ilham Aliyev, who has ruled over the predominantly Shia Muslim nation of 9 million since 2003, easily secured a third term winning around 85% of the vote. His closest challenger and only real opposition candidate, 61-year old historian Jamil Hasanli, received just fewer than 6%. Aliyev has been widely criticised for corruption and human rights violations and the elections themselves were the subject of fierce debate between the government, citizens and international observers.