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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Azeri President Gives Up Some Powers

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey agreed to hand over some of his powers to the chairman of parliament, a presidential spokesman said Thursday, as rebel leader leader Suret Huseinov tightened his grip over the embattled government.

Elchibey's decision was announced as the parliament in the former Soviet republic met to decide whether to strip all powers from the democratically elected president who went into hiding six days ago.

"President Elchibey has decided to hand over part of his authority to the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Geidar Aliyev", the spokesman said. "The text of the presidential decree is being prepared".

Political sources said Elchibey had decided to relinquish control of the country's so-called power ministries -- defense, interior and foreign policy -- to Aliyev and parliament.

It was not immediately clear if this would appease the army rebels who are now camped at the gates of the capital, Baku, after a largely unopposed march across the country.

Elchibey, a former dissident, fled to the southwestern enclave of Nakhichevan on June 18 to avoid bloodshed in Baku but has refused either to resign or return, saying he can rule just as well from his refuge.

Aliyev, 70, is a former Communist leader of Azerbaijan whom Elchibey recalled to power as parliament speaker a week ago to mediate with the rebels.

Huseinov rejected talks Wednesday and repeated his demand that Elchibey resign for bungling Azerbaijan's five-year-old war with Armenia over its Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Aliyev and Huseinov have been vying for power and each has claimed supreme authority since Elchibey's departure.

(Reuters, AP)