Azerbaijan's voter turnout in presidential election as of 15:00 - 60.74%

Aaron Brown
April 12, 2018

There are eight candidates named Gudrat Hasanguliyev from the Whole Azerbaijani Popular Front Party, Araz Alizade from the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan, Faraj Guliyev from the National Revival Movement Party, Razi Nurullayev from the Frontists Initiative Group, Hafiz Hajiyev from the Modern Musavat Party, self-nominee Zahid Oruj, Sardar Mammadov from the Azerbaijan Democratic Party and incumbent President Ilham from the New Azerbaijan Party who are contesting for the slot.

The presidential election in Azerbaijan, which launched on April 11, is being held with gross violations, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

The election comes amid worsening economic conditions in the country, prompting antigovernment protests.

Turnout was 39.4 percent at 0800 GMT, four hours after polls opened, the head of the Central Election Commission said.

A former KGB officer and communist-era leader, Aliyev senior had ruled Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993.

He was re-elected in 2008 and 2013 in polls that were denounced by opposition parties as fraudulent.

The April 11 presidential election is the first election after the Constitutional amendments of the country, which enabled Aliyev to run for office for the 4th time for a 7-year term.

The polling for presidential election started on Wednesday at 8.00 Azerbaijan as 5.314 million registered voters would use their right to vote and elect their next president for seven years.

The changes drew criticism from Council of Europe constitutional law experts as "severely upsetting the balance of powers" and giving the president "unprecedented" authority.

Azerbaijan's Aliyev eyes fourth term in presidential election

Aliyev won his first presidential election in 2003, succeeding his father who ruled for three decades.

"The climax of the tragicomedy was that some of the candidates called on people to vote for Aliyev", independent analyst Bahtiyar Hajiev told AFP.

Cementing his family's decades-long grip on power, the president a year ago appointed his wife Mehriban Aliyeva as first vice president.

The former Soviet republic's huge energy reserves and its strategic location along the Caspian Sea mean it is viewed by Europe as an important alternative to Russian Federation for energy supplies.

But critics argue they have crushed opposition and used their power to fund a lavish lifestyle for themselves and their family.

"For decades, the Aliyevs have been appropriating Azerbaijan's national riches, they have amassed enormous hidden wealth", Khadija Ismayilova, an anti-corruption campaigner, told AFP.

Azerbaijan is committed to democracy and human rights being the State's charter.

Seven other candidates are running in the election, which will be observed by global monitors, including the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

In particular, the camera of the central election commission at the polling station in Baku's Yasamal region recorded how a citizen throws several ballots in the box at once.

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