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Azerbaijan's Ruling Party Announces Aliyev's Victory in Presidential Election

12 April 2018

The private French pollster, Opinion Way, said he garnered 86.5 percent of the vote.

Opposition parties say they are staying away from Wednesday's vote because of Aliyev's sustained crackdown on dissent during his rule and because they say the results will be rigged.

"Azerbaijan is on a firm and irreversible path of democratic development".

An election observation mission from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) arrived in Azerbaijan on Monday, when they met with each of the eight candidates.

Aliyev, who cast his vote with his family at a polling location in the capital, Baku, has positioned himself as a guarantor of prosperity in the oil-rich nation on the Caspian Sea. "Only thanks to him is Azerbaijan a stable country with a strong economy", she said after casting her ballot.

But for Natig Veliyev, a 27-year-old student who did not turn out to vote, "the elections are pure farce". Arrangements for the polling had been fine tuned days before the election by the Azeri Central Election Commission (CEC) responsible for holding of free fair and transparent election in accordance with the democratic norms. "Aliyev simply extends his reign again and again".

The election commission said turnout was about 75 percent and there were no complaints about irregularities.

Ogtay Gulaliyev, the leader of Azerbaijan without Political Prisoners advocacy group, seconded her statements in the same publication, by noting that he noticed an increase in troll attacks every time he posted something critical about Ali Hasanov, Aliyev's public relations chief.

The 56-year-old Aliyev has ruled the South Caucasus country of almost 10 million people since shortly before his father's death in 2003.

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In 2009, Aliyev amended the country's constitution so he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms in a move criticised by rights advocates.

"We are certain that the election results will be rigged and Ilham Aliyev will be announced the victor again", Jamil Hasanly, head of the National Council of Democratic Forces, the Azeri opposition coalition, told Reuters.

Cementing his family s decades-long grip on power, the president a year ago appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as first vice president.

Supporters have praised the Aliyevs for turning a republic once thought of as a Soviet backwater into a flourishing energy supplier to Europe.

Apart from the incumbent president, seven candidates are running in the poll - all low-profile figures who barely carried out any campaigning.

But critics argue they have crushed the opposition and used their power to amass a fortune that funds a lavish lifestyle for the president and his family.

Monitored by global observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the polls were due to close at 1500 GMT.

The referendum was condemned by the opposition and human rights activists as a tool to strengthen Aliyev's grip on power.

Azerbaijan's Ruling Party Announces Aliyev's Victory in Presidential Election