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Why Did Aliyev Decide to Hold Snap Elections in Azerbaijan?! An Exclusive Interview with an Expert

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has issued a decree to hold snap presidential elections in Azerbaijan, not waiting for October. "Armedia" IAA talked to an expert on Azerbaijan Tatev Hayrapetyan about the main approaches on the decision on snap elections and its motives.

 

-Why did Azerbaijan declare snap elections? 

- On February 5, it became known about the decision to hold snap elections in Azerbaijan, which had not any official explanation though. Nevertheless, Aydin Mirzazade, a member of the ruling ''New Azerbaijan'' Party, commented that 2018 is the 100th anniversary of the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, for which Azerbaijan must prepare properly. Such an interpretation suggests that Aliyev, roughly speaking, decided to quickly organize his fourth election.

 

- And what do the opposition forces think?

- Let me mention that Isa Gambar from the ''Musavat'' party and Mirmahmud Miralioglu, leader of the ''Classic Popular Front Party'', were the first ones to be nominated from the opposition. Nevertheless, given that all the influential opposition figures in Azerbaijan are either in prison or outside the country, they can hardly mobilize the opposition around them and create a serious problem for Aliev's re-election. Therefore, I do not consider realistic that Aliyev fears the possible confrontation with the opposition considering the current Azerbaijani reality. Azerbaijani well-known journalist Khadija Ismaylova notes that Aliyev shows with this step that he does not take into account anyone in the country and will do only as he wants. "Such a decision is usually made in case of war, natural disaster or other emergency situation. And they made such a decision without any explanation. "

 

- According to you, which are the main motives of such a step for Aliev? 

- In my opinion, there may be internal and some external causes. First of all, the deepening of economic problems in Azerbaijan. It's no secret that there are serious problems in the banking system. Recently, it became known that the shares of the World Bank in Azerbaijan are being sold. Some large banks have been closed, so maybe Aliyev is afraid of further deterioration of the situation and deepening of social discontent. Perhaps, Aliyev has also become aware that some "dissatisfied" people form an inner opposition due to recent clan reshuffles, so he wants to speed up the elections to further strengthen his position.

From the point of view of external factors, it may be that snap elections were announced due to the case of the RaAL movement's leader, Ilham Mamedov. The West continues to criticize the Azerbaijani authorities, and in order not to attract the attention of Western structures in October of this year, Aliyev decided to organize the elections in parallel with Russia as a result of which Azerbaijan can avoid "special" attention and western pressures.

Finally, I consider possible developments related to the Karabakh issue. Maybe, Aliyev is preparing another provocative action, so he wants to be quickly re-elected in order to organize it. Nevertheless, I think that the Armenian side should be vigilant to prevent possible adventurism of Azerbaijan.

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