Referendum on third Azeri presidential term given nod by courts

Earthtimes (press release), UK
Dec 24 2008

Referendum on third Azeri presidential term given nod by courts

Posted : Wed, 24 Dec 2008 10:46:26 GMT
Author : DPA

Moscow/Baku – The Azeri Constitutional Court on Wednesday upheld a
move by the Caspian Sea country’s ruling party for a referendum to
scrap legal limits on presidential terms. Azerbaijan’s parliament on
Friday overwhelmingly backed the proposal to lift a ban on a
third-term presidency, potentially extending four decades of dynastic
rule in the oil-rich state.

Given the nod from the nation’s constitutional court Wednesday, Azeris
are expected to vote on prolonging President Ilham Aliyev’s presidency
in a nationwide referendum.

Another amendment will also ask voters whether elections should be
postponed in the event of war.

Azerbaijan has long been in a stand-off with neighbouring Armenia
since a bloody war in the early 1990s over its breakaway region of
Nagarno-Karabakh.

Aliyev – who succeed his father Geidar, a former Communist party
leader – won a second five-year term in October in elections deemed
neither free nor fair by international observers.

The proposal allowing Aliyev to stay in power has been widely
criticized by opposition parties.

Constitutional Court judge Fikrat Babayev said the proposed amendment
had become necessary in view of Azerbaijan’s economic boom in recent
years and was aimed at improving national legislation, news agency
Interfax reported from the capital Baku.

Aliyev has presided over a stunning growth rate of near 30 per cent in
recent years, fuelled by the country’s deep oil-wealth.

The United States and European Union play court to Azerbaijan’s
leader, who governs over one of the world’s most strategic energy
transit routes supplying Caspian and Central Asian gas to Europe.

But both have expressed concern over the lack of political freedoms in
the country.

Most of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas exports cross Georgian territory
through the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline to the Mediterranean.

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