Polls have opened in the presidential election in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

Polls opened at 0300 GMT on Wednesday in the presidential race dominated by incumbent Ilham Aliyev, whose low-key campaign for a third term reflected his confidence that he will roll over the main opposition challenger and eight fringe candidates.

Under Aliyev, the nation of 9 million has basked in oil riches that have more than tripled its gross domestic product. Aliyev inherited the presidency from his father, Geidar Aliyev, who had ruled Azerbaijan first as the Communist Party boss and then as a post-Soviet president for the greater part of three decades.

International rights groups have accused Aliyev of pressuring and harassing government critics, leaving them little breathing space to campaign.