Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has won a fifth consecutive term in power with more than 92 percent of the vote, according to election authorities.
However, international observers say he had no meaningful challenger. The main rival parties boycotted the election, with one opposition leader calling it an “imitation of democracy”.
Wednesday’s vote was planned for 2025, but a snap poll was called after the government seized control of a region run by ethnic Armenian separatists. Aliyev ran against six other candidates although none was critical of his rule. Thousands of supporters took to the streets of the capital Baku to celebrate the president’s re-election.
State media cited election officials as saying Aliyev had received 92.05 percent of the vote with over 93 percent of ballots counted, with turnout at around 76 percent. The president typically wins over 85 percent of the vote in elections which rights groups say are neither free nor fair.
Artur Gerasymov, who led an observer mission from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told reporters on Thursday that President Aliyev “was not meaningfully challenged... [which] resulted in a contest devoid of genuine pluralism”.
President Aliyev announced the early poll after his popularity surged last year in the wake of Azerbaijan’s successful military campaign in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Azerbaijan’s lightning offensive in September brought an end to three decades of ethnic Armenian rule in the region - which is recognised internationally as Azerbaijani territory. Most of its 120,000 ethnic Armenian residents fled to neighbouring Armenia although some of the most senior officials in the breakaway territory were arrested and have been held in pre-trial detention in Azerbaijan for months, accused of various offences.