Azer­ba­ij­an vo­te leng­thens Aliy­ev’s ti­me in of­fi­ce

Times of Suriname - - ENGELS -

AZER­BA­IJ­AN - Azer­ba­ij­an has vo­t­ed in fa­vor of ex­ten­ding the pre­si­den­ti­al term from fi­ve to se­ven ye­ars, elec­ti­on au­tho­ri­ties said on Tues­day, a step that cri­tics say will hand un­pre­ce­den­ted po­wers to Pre­si­dent Il­ham Aliy­ev who has led the coun­try sin­ce 2003.

The sta­te elec­ti­on com­mis­si­on said a vast ma­jo­ri­ty of the 91.2 per­cent of vo­ters who tur­ned out in a re­fe­ren­dum in the Cas­pi­an Sea oil-pro­du­cer had back­ed the mo­ve. “The re­fe­ren­dum was con­duc­ted in a transpa­rent man­ner,” Ma­zakhir Pa­nak­hov, com­mis­si­on head, said be­fo­re rea­ding out the re­sult of Mon­day’s ple­bis­ci­te. Aliy­ev, 54, who suc­cee­ded his fa­ther as pre­si­dent, can seek re-elec­ti­on in­de­fi­ni­te­ly af­ter a maxi­mum num­ber of terms in of­fi­ce was scrap­ped via a si­mi­lar re­fe­ren­dum se­ven ye­ars ago. The au­tho­ri­ties say a lon­ger pre­si­den­ti­al term will en­su­re con­ti­nui­ty in de­ci­si­on­ma­king, which they say is vi­tal af­ter a slump in world oil pri­ces hal­ted Azer­ba­ij­an’s long run of eco­no­mic growth.

Apart from the high vo­te in fa­vor of ex­ten­ding the pre­si­den­ti­al term the­re had al­so been strong sup­port for ano­ther 28 amend­ments to the con­sti­tu­ti­on, the elec­ti­on com­mis­si­on said. Tur­nout was 69.7 per­cent. Op­po­si­ti­on and rights ac­ti­vists cri­ti­ci­zed the amend­ments, which al­so gi­ve the pre­si­dent the right to de­cla­re an ear­ly pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­on at his con­ve­nien­ce, as well as dis­sol­ve par­li­a­ment.

Ahead of the vo­te, ex­perts of the Coun­cil of Eu­ro­pe, a rights and mo­ni­to­ring bo­dy, said ma­ny of the pro­po­sed amend­ments being vo­t­ed on would se­vere­ly ups­et the ba­lan­ce of po­wer by gi­ving “un­pre­ce­den­ted” po­wers to the pre­si­dent. “A ma­jo­ri­ty of Aze­ri vo­ters ex­pres­sed their con­fi­den­ce in Azer­ba­ij­an’s pre­si­dent,” said Ali Akhmed­ov, se­cre­ta­ry of the ru­ling Ye­ni Azer­ba­ij­an par­ty.

“The re­fe­ren­dum re­sults will ha­ve a po­si­ti­ve ef­fect on the im­ple­men­ta­ti­on of eco­no­mic re­forms and will gi­ve an im­pe­tus to bu­si­ness de­vel­op­ment,” he said. Eu­ro­pean ob­ser­vers from the Par­li­a­men­ta­ry As­sem­bly of the Coun­cil of Eu­ro­pe (PACE) re­cog­ni­zed the re­fe­ren­dum re­sults, but cal­l­ed on the Aze­ri au­tho­ri­ties to im­pro­ve the vo­ting pro­cess. “We think the re­fe­ren­dum re­sults are a step to­wards se­cu­re, sta­ble and sustai­na­ble de­vel­op­ment of Azer­ba­ij­an and re­flect the will of the Azer­ba­ij­a­ni pe­o­p­le,” said Aleksandar Ni­ko­loski, who he­a­ded the PACE mo­ni­to­ring de­le­ga­ti­on.


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