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Aliyev wins presidential election in Azerbaijan, secures 5th term in office

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 8, 2024 3:32 AM 2 min read
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev arrives at the 2018 NATO Summit at NATO headquarters on July 12, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium. (Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
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Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev easily won a snap presidential election on Feb. 7, securing another seven-year term in office. Aliyev has been in power since 2003, succeeding his father, Heydar Aliyev, who was president from 1993-2003.

"The Azerbaijani people have elected Ilham Aliyev as the country's president," Central Election Commission Chief Mazahir Panahov said in a press conference.

Panahov also claimed that voter turnout was 67.7 percent.

The election, which Aliyev was widely expected to win, was seen as a referendum on the country's victory in September 2023 over Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh after decades of ongoing conflict.

Azerbaijan fought against ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh and forces from the Republic of Armenia from 1988-1994. The war ended in an Armenian victory and the creation of the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh Republic within the territory of Azerbaijan that is recognized by international law.

In 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war in which the latter's forces successfully reclaimed a large portion of the territory before a ceasefire was mediated by Moscow, which sent a "peacekeeping" force of several thousand Russian troops to the region.

In the following years, tensions did not subside, with Azerbaijan blockading the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, leading to a humanitarian crisis widely condemned by UN member states and international organizations.

The situation culminated in Azerbaijan’s 24-hour successful offensive on Sept. 19, 2023.

Freedom House, a nonprofit advocating international democracy, gave Azerbaijan a 0/4 rating on electoral freedom in its 2023 report card on human rights in the country. The overall score was 9/100, including 2/40 in terms of political freedom.

"Since the early 1990s, elections have not been considered credible or competitive by international observers," the human rights group said.

"Opposition politicians and party officials are subject to arbitrary arrest on dubious charges, physical violence, and intimidation."

The Azerbaijani government was widely mocked for not even bothering with the semblance of respecting the democratic process after it released the results of the 2013 presidential election a full day before the voting started.

Aliyev ended up winning 92% of the vote.  

Armenia, Azerbaijan agree to exchange prisoners, work toward peace treaty
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on Dec. 7 to work toward a peace treaty and make tangible steps for stabilizing mutual relations, including an exchange of prisoners.
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