Azerbaijani president fires two governors

President Ilham Aliev fired two regional governors for interfering with the vote count in this weekend's parliamentary elections, his office said Wednesday, and prosecutors said four election officials had been detained on suspicion of falsifying balloting results and abuse of office.

The governors of the Surakhani and Sabirabad regions, Natiq Mehdiyev and Ashraf Mammadov were sacked amid international criticism of the balloting. They were the first officials to be punished for their role in the elections, the AP reports.

The four officials detained included the heads of the election commissions in the regions of Bina and Sumgait. The two others were heads of precinct-level election commissions, the Prosecutor General's office said.

It also announced the opening of a criminal investigation against 10 precinct commission heads in the Surakhani district, where the Central Election Commission announced Wednesday that a top opposition leader, Ali Kerimli, had won after a recount. The officials were accused of allowing vote fraud and distorting the will of the people. A.M.

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