Mr. & Mrs. Aliyev: President, First Lady May Be Switching Roles To R


ANALYSIS | 24.06.13 | 10:42

Photo: Via Facebook

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mrs. Mehriban
Aliyeva By NAIRA HAYRUMYAN ArmeniaNow correspondent

Armenia’s regional archrival Azerbaijan is holding presidential
elections next fall, with the country’s ruling Aliyev clan doing
everything to retain power. This time around the Aliyevs’ technology
can become a real ‘know-how’ in world politics.

The ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party has already nominated incumbent
President Ilham Aliyev to run for what would be his third successive
term in office. But a few days ago reports also appeared that the
Democratic Azerbaijan World party had nominated First Lady Mehriban
Aliyeva to run for president.

Aliyev’s wife is quite popular among the population. It has been
discussed for years that Aliyeva may run for president in 2013 instead
of her husband who still is allowed to seek a third consecutive term
in office under the country’s changed constitution. But, apparently,
an elaborate scheme has been devised and eventually it will lead to
one of the Aliyev spouses becoming next president, while the opposition
candidate will again fall short of the required percentage of votes.

By the way, well-known playwright Rustam Ibragimbekov may become the
single opposition candidate in Azerbaijan. He has long lived mainly
in Russia, but also enjoys popularity among Azerbaijan’s population.

Ibragimbekov was recently elected chairman of the National Council
of Democratic Forces of Azerbaijan, and leaders of the country’s
opposition declared about their support for his candidacy.

The Council of Azerbaijani Communities of Russia, which was set up
in Moscow last year, also voiced its support for Ibragimbekov. This
organization includes a number of top Russian businessmen of Azeri
origin. Many of them have strained relations with President Aliyev,
who does not let anyone come close to Azerbaijan’s economy.

If, indeed, the ‘Aliyev spouses v. Ibragibmekov’ technology is applied,
voters in Azerbaijan may face a difficult choice. On the one hand,
many people realize that the Aliyev clan has usurped the national
assets and does not tolerate any rivalry even if it comes from their
own people. So, the masses with protest mood are certain to want to
vote for a single candidate from the opposition. But on the other
hand, the prospect of having the first female president represented
by a beautiful and clever woman is sure to attract many Azerbaijanis
as well.

Azerbaijan’s elections will be under the scrutiny of Western
democracies. Even now critical statements are being voiced against
Aliyev. Last week he visited Brussels where he said that Azerbaijan
wants to be closer to Europe. At the same time, in the Eastern
Partnership program Azerbaijan is no longer considered as a candidate
for the signing of an Association Agreement with the European Union
any time soon. Besides, a lot will depend on the response of Aliyev to
the long-standing Western proposal for laying a new pipeline to Europe.

It is also noteworthy that since the very first days of current street
protests in Turkey there has been talk that very soon the protests
will spread to Turkey’s ethnic cousin and regional ally, Azerbaijan.

From: A. Papazian

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