Aliyev seizes initiative in Azeri power struggle

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The Independent Online
ISTANBUL - The veteran leader Geider Aliyev seized the initiative yesterday in Azerbaijan's dramatic and confused struggle for power, staging mass rallies in the capital, Baku, and moving fast to arrest, threaten or neutralise his rivals, writes Hugh Pope.

Support among a generally cynical public was tentatively rallying behind the former member of the Soviet politburo, Western diplomats in Baku said. But the balance of forces has been changing almost hour by hour. It is unclear what happened overnight in Azerbaijan's second city, Ganja. Mr Aliyev announced at midnight rebels had seized key buildings and the airport. But later he said government troops had won back control. Local reports suggested he could have played up events to rally support from ordinary Azeris and rebel Interior Ministry troops in Baku, and to justify moving against the Prime Minister, Suret Husseinov.