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article imageAzerbaijan calls snap presidential poll

By AFP     Feb 5, 2018 in World

Azerbaijan's strongman Ilham Aliyev Monday called a surprise snap presidential election for April 11, six months ahead of schedule, without providing an immediate explanation for the move.

"Set the date of the election of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan on April 11," Aliyev said in a decree posted on his website.

The oil-rich country was initially set to hold a presidential election on October 17, 2018.

Aliyev, 56, was first elected president in 2003, after the death of his father Heydar Aliyev, a former KGB officer and communist-era leader who had ruled Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993.

In 2009, he changed the country's constitution so that he could run for an unlimited number of presidential terms, in a move criticised by rights advocates.

Cementing his family's decades-long grip on power, the president last year appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as First Vice President.

The authorities in Azerbaijan have faced strong international criticism for routinely harassing and jailing those opposed to Aliyev's regime.

Aliyev denies any rights abuses.

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