Azerbaijan

Aliyev’s Landslide Victory in the Election

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev Casts His Ballot in Nagorno-Karabakh to Symbolize Election’s Significance

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to cast his vote in the early presidential election on February 7 spoke volumes about the significance of the election and the message he wanted to convey.

Aliyev, along with his wife and children, were seen voting in a grand hall in Xankendi, the largest city in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This symbolic location represented the recent victory of Azerbaijan in the region and its reunification with the rest of the country.

The election, which watchdogs have deemed neither free nor fair, is expected to result in a fifth consecutive term for President Aliyev. Throughout his 20-year presidency, Aliyev has been known for stifling dissent, cracking down on political opposition, and heavily restricting the media.

The decision to hold the election in Nagorno-Karabakh is particularly poignant as the region was seized by separatist, Armenian-backed forces in the early 1990s, resulting in a war that claimed thousands of lives. However, in a lightning offensive in 2023, Azerbaijan managed to reclaim most of its territory, culminating in a significant victory for President Aliyev.

The election commission reported that 26 polling stations were set up in the territories that Azerbaijan had won back since 2020. While turnout numbers were not clear, state and pro-government media released footage of voting taking place, with some newly registered voters expressing their gratitude for being able to exercise their right to vote in their hometown.

The early election date was justified by President Aliyev as a historical moment that allowed elections to be held across the entirety of the country’s territory. However, questions remain about the inclusivity and fairness of the electoral process.

Regardless of the controversy surrounding the election, President Aliyev’s choice of venue for casting his vote has sent a strong message about the significance of the election and its association with the recent victory in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 

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