Georgian PM congratulates Ilham Aliyev on re-election as Azerbaijani president

Howard TerryApr 13, 2018

Voters in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation of Azerbaijan cast ballots Wednesday in an early presidential election that is all but certain to extend the rule of the country's long-serving leader by another seven years.

In a statement, the opposition group also alleged widespread violations including people voting multiple times.

The presidential election originally was scheduled for the fall.

"The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly will certainly continue to support all steps by the authorities that will bring the country forward on a path towards creating the open political environment necessary for truly free and fair elections".

The election took place in conditions dominated by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), which nominated the incumbent president as one of the eight candidates who took part.

Aliyev, 56, was first elected in 2003, after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev. "The sides confirmed their mutual willingness to deepen the relations of strategic partnership, especially on the restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of both countries", the press service of the Ukrainian president said on Thursday. Following the results of a referendum in 2016, he now enjoys even greater powers than before, and is poised to appoint a family member, likely his son or his wife, to succeed him.

Seven candidates ran, but critics questioned whether they were actual opponents.

Supporters have praised the Aliyevs for turning a republic once thought of as an ex-Soviet backwater into a flourishing energy supplier to Europe. Aliyev has denied accusations of rights abuses and corruption.

About 600 global election observers and 60.000 national ones from 11 parties watched the transparency and legal order of the electoral process which was also carried out in 421 polling stations overseas.

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