Azerbaijanis Vote For A President While Europe & International Observers Look On

Elections in Azerbaijan expected to retain incumbent in landslide result

Opposition parties say they are boycotting the presidential vote because of Aliyev's sustained crackdown on dissent during his rule and a likely rigging of electoral results.

"Ilham Aliyev is a good president and we want him to continue fulfilling his duties", military serviceman Anar Piriyev said when he voted in the centre of the capital Baku.

Seven candidates are challenging Aliyev. Aliyev has ruled Azerbaijan since 2003, after succeeding his father, Geidar Aliyev, who led the country for nearly three decades.

Aliyev has tried to strike a balance between Azerbaijan's former Soviet master Russian Federation and the West, notably on energy policy.

Due to an opposition boycott, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is nearly certain to be re-elected.

In 2009, he amended the country's constitution so he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms, in a move criticised by rights advocates.

Operations will remain in place in Azerbaijan until April 18 to be present for the vote counting and assess post-election developments. Since then, two referendum outcomes have passed which scrapped a two-term limit for presidents, and another that lengthened terms of office from five to seven years.

Azerbaijanis Vote For A President While Europe & International Observers Look On
Azerbaijanis Vote For A President While Europe & International Observers Look On

The changes drew criticism from Council of Europe constitutional law experts as "severely upsetting the balance of powers" and giving the president "unprecedented" authority.

Apart from the incumbent president, seven candidates are running in the poll - all low-profile figures who have barely carried out any campaigning.

The independent candidate Zajid Opudzh also appears in ballots.

Supporters have praised the Aliyevs for turning a republic once thought of as a Soviet backwater into a flourishing energy supplier to Europe.

"For decades, the Aliyevs have been appropriating Azerbaijan's national riches, they have amassed vast hidden wealth", Khadija Ismayilova, an anti-corruption campaigner, told AFP.

Under his watch police have used violence to break up opposition demonstrations, leading the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to say previous elections fell far short of global standards.

According to Azerbaijani CEC, on April 11, 5 million 315 thousand Azerbaijani voters will be voting at 5,641 polling stations. "He got 86.09 percent of votes", Mazahir Panahov, the Central Election Commission chairman told a news conference.

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