Azerbaijan leader calls snap presidential vote for Feb 7

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Azerbaijani President İlham Aliyev yesterday called snap presidential elections in February, in a move expected to extend the decades-long rule of his family.

Aliyev’s popularity is soaring after his military recaptured the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenian separatists in a lightning offensive in September.

A decree published by the presidency ordered officials to hold a “snap election” on Feb. 7 next year. Elections had previously been scheduled for 2025.

A state-run pollster recently said 75 percent of the population approve of Aliyev’s handling of the Karabakh conflict, which saw the mass exodus of ethnic Armenians living in the long-disputed mountainous territory.

“Aliyev’s approval ratings had always been high, and they skyrocketed after the victorious military operation in Karabakh in September,” independent political analyst Farhad Mamedov told AFP.

“He is at the peak of his popularity.”

Aliyev sent troops to Karabakh on Sept. 19 and after just one day of fighting Armenian separatist forces that had controlled the disputed region for three decades laid down arms and agreed to reintegrate with Baku.

Azerbaijan’s victory marked the end of the territorial dispute, which saw Azerbaijan and Armenia fight two wars – in 2020 and the 1990s – that have claimed tens of thousands of lives from both sides.

Aliyev insists Baku has no territorial claims to Armenia and rules out a fresh conflict.

The arch-foe countries are now negotiating a comprehensive peace treaty, but the Western-mediated talks have so far failed to produce a breakthrough.

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