Azerbaijan incumbent wins presidential election amid boycott

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev won a fourth consecutive term by a landslide in a snap election on April 11 that opponents said was rigged (AFP).

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Aliyev has secured 86 percent of the vote so far, with 94 percent of votes counted, the Central Election Commission said in a statement. (AFP). Election turnout was 74.5 percent it added.

The main opposition parties boycotted the election because of Aliyev’s record. Under his watch police have violently broken up opposition demonstrations, leading the European Union and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to say that previous elections fell far short of international standards. Journalists critical of the government risk arrest and imprisonment. Aliyev and his supporters deny allegations of vote fraud or suppressing the opposition.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first foreign leader to congratulate Aliyev on his victory (AFP).

While Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan Party government has long been criticized in the West (Washington Post), the country has huge energy reserves and it is seen by Europe as an important alternative to Russia for energy supplies.

Aliyev won his first presidential election in 2003, succeeding his father who ruled for three decades. 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.

Aliyev’s supporters said he brought the election forward from October 17 in order to avoid presidential and parliamentary elections clashing in 2025. His opponents say his aim was to shorten the campaign period and prevent efforts to stop vote rigging (AFP).

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