Aliyev is preparing to win early presidential elections in Azerbaijan Election news

It is widely expected that President Aliyev will win another term after taking control of the separatist enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Voters in Azerbaijan cast their ballots in an election that is widely expected to give President Ilham Aliyev another seven-year term after his election. Military attack Last year, he placed the Armenian separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh under his government’s control.

A fifth term for Aliyev is seen as a lost result in Wednesday’s elections also due to the crackdown on independent media and the absence of any real opposition.

Azerbaijani forces launched a lightning attack last September, forcing the separatists who had controlled the region for more than three decades to lay down their arms. Tens of thousands were ethnic Armenians Forced to escape To neighboring Armenia.

Eager to benefit from this victory, Aliyev A Early elections in February It was originally scheduled to take place in 2025. He said he wanted the elections to be “the beginning of a new era” in which Azerbaijan would have full control over its territory.

“I will vote for the victorious leader Ilham Aliyev,” Sevda Mirzoyeva, 52, a resident of the capital, Baku, told the Associated Press before the polls opened.

The president ordered a lightning attack last year after a nine-month siege to regain full control of the breakaway enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

In announcing the elections in January, Aliyev said that elections would be held for the first time in the Karabakh region after the exodus of Armenians.

Aliyev (62 years old) was elected president for the first time in 2003 after the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, a former Soviet intelligence officer who had ruled Azerbaijan since 1993.

He was re-elected in 2008, 2013, and most recently in 2018, with 86 percent of the vote. Opposition parties denounced all elections as fraudulent.

In 2009, Aliyev amended the constitution so he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms, a move criticized by human rights advocates who say he could become president for life.

His time in power has been marked by the introduction of increasingly strict laws limiting political debate, as well as the arrest of opposition figures and independent journalists, including in the run-up to elections.

Aliyev faces no real challenge from the other six candidates, some of whom have publicly praised him.

The two main opposition parties in Azerbaijan – the Musavat Party and the Popular Front – will not participate in the vote.

Musavat Party leader Arif Hajili told the Associated Press that the party will not participate in the elections because they are not democratic.

“a lot Journalists and political activists in prison. There are more than 200 political prisoners. Al-Hajili said: “There are serious issues related to the election law and the electoral committees are essentially subject to the influence of the authorities.”

Ali Karimli, leader of the Popular Front Party, said that calling for early elections without public debate shows that the authorities fear political competition.

In theory, there could be two rounds of voting if a candidate fails to obtain more than 50% of the votes in the first round, but Aliyev is widely expected to be re-elected by an overwhelming majority, as happened in previous elections.

About six million voters were registered in the elections, which were supervised by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

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