Azerbaijan votes in polls decried as sham by opposition
Baku: Azerbaijanis voted Sunday in snap parliamentary elections decried by the opposition as a sham ballot that will strengthen President Ilham Aliyev’s grip on power without bringing any real change.
Critics say that Aliyev, 58, seeks to address growing public discontent over an economic slowdown and to improve his government’s image by holding early elections and replacing discredited old elites with younger technocrats.
The opposition accused the government of limiting their ability to campaign and several parties are boycotting the vote.
One of the leaders of the opposition Musavat party, Gulaga Aslanly, decried “mass electoral violations” on Sunday.
He reeled off a litany of alleged irregularities, saying some ballot boxes were not transparent and that others had openings that were too wide.
“One can even drop a mid-sized book into these boxes,” he told AFP, adding that monitors faced “obstacles” and pointing to problems with voter lists.
Video footage showed a smiling Aliyev and his family voting at a polling station in the capital Baku.
Vafa Alekperova, a 43-year-old schoolteacher, said she voted for a candidate of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party.
“I trust the party and my hopes for a better future are tied to it,” she said.
At the same polling station in Baku, 58-year-old taxi driver Ilgar Gasymov said he “voted for an opposition candidate because only the opposition cares about ordinary people’s problems”. – AFP