Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev has signed a decree to hold the vote a year earlier than planned Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev © Getty Images / Omer Messinger
The presidential election in Azerbaijan will be held next February instead of in 2025, President Ilham Aliyev announced on Thursday. Aliyev has led the country for the past 20 years, securing his fourth term in 2018.
In an official decree posted to the president’s website, Aliyev ordered the Azerbaijani Central Election Commission to hold the vote on February 7, 2024 “in the manner established by the Election Code of the Republic.”
Aliyev, however, has not provided any official explanation for the decision.
Under the country’s constitution, there is no limit to how many terms a president may serve, meaning Aliyev will be able to run for office again and could secure what would be his fifth consecutive term. In the previous election, the Azerbaijani leader received 86.2% of the vote, with a 74.51% turnout.
Additionally, amendments to the constitution following a public referendum in 2016 increased the presidential term from five to seven years and gave the president the power to dissolve the country’s unicameral parliament and call early presidential elections.
Aliyev’s announcement comes after Azerbaijan carried out what it called a “counter-terrorism operation” in the long-disputed Armenian-majority region of Nagorno-Karabakh in October. As a result of the offensive, Baku’s troops were able to establish full control over the region, which had been under Armenian rule for the past several decades.
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That same month, Aliyev personally traveled to Nagorno-Karabakh to raise the Azerbaijani flag over the regional capital of Khankendi, known as Stepanakert in Armenia.
Following the dissolution of the local militias and all branches of government, Aliyev promised that the residents of Karabakh would have equal rights and freedoms and would have the opportunity to preserve their culture and continue to use the Armenian language, as well as enjoy tax and customs benefits for businesses.
Nevertheless, by the end of October, the majority of the region’s population of about 100,000 people had fled to Armenia. (RT)