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Ilham Aliyev's third "victory"

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, October 15
The results of Azerbaijan's presidential election on October 9 were never in doubt. In fact, Aliyev's third victory was a foregone conclusion before a single vote was even cast. Moreover, there is no indication that the political situation in Azerbaijan will radically change anytime soon.

Georgia has a great interest in the stability of its neighbor because Azerbaijan is a close strategic friend and partner of our country. Ilham Aliyev and his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, came to power at approximately the same time. Both were young leaders, full of ambition, but their fates differed. Saakashvili’s grip on power was halted after his party's defeat in the parliamentary election on October 1, 2012. His pre-meditated plan to move from the president to the prime minister had failed. As such, Saakashvili now has to leave his presidential post after the upcoming presidential election on October 27, 2013 when the country will elect a new president.

While on his second term, Aliyev held a referendum in Azerbaijan; the recent Azeri constitution stipulates that a person can be elected as president as many times as he wishes.

Aliyev inherited the presidency from his father, Heidar Aliyev. Petro dollars create the feeling of stability in the country. The condition of the local population has improved considerably. In Azerbaijan the opposition is suppressed. There are almost no protests held in the streets of Baku. The country's independent media are under the serious pressure, and the fines and penalties for non-sanction protest rallies can reach $10, 000.

In addition, the number of political prisoners has increased in the country as of late. Generally, the Azeri population quietly accepts the results of the elections without much fuss. Nine candidates were registered. More than half the candidates however were affiliated with Aliyev’s party. A historian and professor, Jamil Hasanli was one of the oppositional candidates. Hasanli challenged Aliyev, inviting the president to participate in TV debates. The challenge was rejected, as the Alieyev camp argued that his activities speak for themselves.

On October 9, Aliyev gathered 84.6% of the votes, while Hasanli received only 5.5%. Hasanli and his supporters do not recognize the results of the election and claim that they were manipulated and fraudulent.

Independent observers form the OSCE detected multiple violations on Election Day. Their report was rather critical. However, the OSCE mentioned that Aliyev would have won even if the elections were conducted fairly. But he would have received less support from the voters.

Aliyev and his team, meanwhile, announced the October 9 election as a celebration of democracy. On October 10, both President Mikheil Saakashvili, and Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, congratulated Aliyev on his victory. The candidate for the presidency of the Georgian Dream coalition, Giorgi Margvelashvili, also congratulated Aliyev by sending him a letter.