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Sunday 26 January 2020

Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev on course for landslide election win

The 56-year-old had notched up 86% support with about two-thirds of the vote counted.

Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev walks to cast his ballot paper (AP)
Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev walks to cast his ballot paper (AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

The president of the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan has raced towards a landslide win that would add seven more years to his 15-year tenure.

The national elections commission said that with 65% of the ballots counted, President Ilham Aliyev had received 86% of the vote in an early presidential election.

Leading opposition parties boycotted the race, leaving seven token challengers.

Mr Aliyev, 56, has led Azerbaijan since 2003. He succeeded his father Geidar Aliyev, who ruled Azerbaijan first as Communist Party boss and then as a post-Soviet president for the greater part of three decades.

Like his father before him, the son has cast himself as a custodian of stability, an image that resonates with many in a nation where memories of the chaos and turmoil that accompanied the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union are still fresh.

Supporters of Ilham Aliyev celebrate his victory in the presidential elections in Baku (Aziz Karimov/AP/PA)

Since Mr Aliyev won the last election in 2013, Azerbaijan’s constitution has been amended to extend the presidential term from five to seven years.

Mr Aliyev’s critics denounced the 2016 plebiscite as effectively cementing a dynastic rule.

Mr Aliyev has allied the majority Shia Muslim nation of almost 10 million with the west, helping to protect its energy and security interests, and to counterbalance Russia’s influence in the strategic Caspian region.

At the same time, his government has long faced criticism in the west for alleged human rights abuses and suppression of dissent.

The presidential election originally was scheduled for the autumn. Officials said it was moved to April because the country would be busy with various high-profile events at the end of 2018.

PA Media

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