Azerbaijan to hold snap presidential election in April

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On February 5, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed an order announcing the extraordinary presidential election. "Taking into account that every three years in five years are connected with the elections in Azerbaijan, Article 101 of the Constitution was amended and the presidential term was extended from five to seven years". Opposition parties have never posed much of a challenge to Aliyev during his almost 15 years in power, and the leader has won each presidential election he's participated in with over 75 percent of the vote.

In a tweet, de Waal suggested the sped-up election could be a way out of those sanctions: "release Ilgar Mammadov after the deadline to register as a candidate, escape punishment from Council of Europe". This theory is based on the experience of 2013, when in the months ahead of Azerbaijani presidential elections a group of ethnic Azeri diaspora members in Russian Federation formed a new lobbying group.

The West will be busy assessing the Russian presidential election which is scheduled for 18 March.

Aliev, 56, has been ruling Azerbaijan since 2003, succeeding his father, Heydar, who had served as president since 1993.

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The President fears the situation in Azerbaijan may become unstable before autumn. So far there are no other candidates.

The President is entitled to call an early presidential election following a constitutional referendum made on 26 September 2016.

"Therefore, the issues envisaged in the Order on Declaring Early Presidential Elections in Azerbaijan fully complies with the requirements of the Constitution and the legislation of the country", Ali Hasanov said.