Azerbaijan's Aliyev seeks to extend 15-year rule in election

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Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev walks to cast his ballot paper at a polling station during a presidential elections in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The final turnout at the presidential election in Azerbaijan is 74.51%. "The parties agreed on the opening of the Trade House of Azerbaijan in Kyiv", the report says. He claimed victory in a televised address, after taking 86% of the vote.

Viorel Riceard Badea, head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said: "We have to consider that, in a political environment where democratic principles are compromised and the rule of law is not observed, fair and free elections are not possible".

The polls also "lacked genuine competition", the global election and war monitor said, with opposition candidates refraining from challenging or criticising the incumbent.

New constitutional amendments extended the mandate from 5 to 7 years, while the prohibition to take that position for more than two consecutive terms was removed, which allows Aliyev to remain in power up to 2025.

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However, local media broadcast images of voters still queuing up to cast their ballots at a number of polling stations. Orban himself voted early on Sunday morning with his wife at a school in the leafy Zugliget suburb of Budapest.

Opposition parties called the vote a "show".

Critics believe that the seven opponents that were allowed to run in the contest-the CEC did not accept the applications of seven other, better-known opposition politicians-are in essence puppets affiliated with Aliyev and the government. Two of them voted for Aliyev, news website Yenicag.az reported.

A former KGB officer and communist-era leader, Aliyev senior had ruled Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993. He has benefited from a boom fuelled by oil exports, but a slump in global crude prices in the last three years has weakened the Azeri currency and shrunk the economy.

"I am grateful to my people for voting for our achievements and success", Aliyev said on state television, soon after the election commission announced the first results.

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