“Moved away from the feeders officers can withdraw from obedience””, the budget revenues decreased several times”, “there is a threat of an Islamist coup.” So political analysts describe the reasons that led the citizens of Azerbaijan to endorse a rather radical change in the Constitution of the country. Discussed the fact that they were made for 19-year-old son, Ilham Aliyev.
The referendum in Azerbaijan (one of the issues which was the extension of the powers of the President) is recognized as valid. Voter turnout was 30.6%, said Monday the Director of the information center of the CEC Farid Orujov. We will remind, according to the Electoral code of Azerbaijan, the referendum is considered taken place if in it will take part in at least 25% of voters.
“The opposition is not one of the domestic elites, their main donors – Western organizations, their activities are more consistent with the wishes of their foreign sponsors”
The referendum was proposed the inclusion in the Constitution of Azerbaijan of the amendments providing increase of term of office of the President from five to seven years, the introduction of Vice-presidents, as well as removing the age qualification for candidates for the presidency and Parliament. Now to run including the presidential position can be 18 years old.
“Abuse and the punitive operation against the people”
Against the amendments strongly supported by the opposition. So, on September 17 in Baku, there were mass demonstrations against a referendum on amending the Constitution, which involved three to four thousand people, told the “Caucasian knot”. Similar protests opponents of the constitutional reforms held on 11 September.
The protesters chanted that all the proposed changes to the law are responsible only to the interests of the ruling elite. “We believe that changes to the Constitution are an insult to the people. What people agree to vote for the restriction of his right to freedom of Assembly, property rights?” – said the leader of the oldest opposition (in the early 90s – the ruling power of the popular front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA) Ali Kerimli.
Joined the protests not only of the secular opposition, but Islamists.
“If you call yourselves Islamists…”
A member of the Islamic party of Azerbaijan, Rovshan Ahmadli, read out a message from prison the leader of the movement “Muslim unity” of Taleh Bagirzade. “If you call yourselves Islamists, why do you take a contemplative stance? Those who support this government, worship not Allah, and idol – quoted Bagirzade Rovshan Ahmadli. In response to these words in the square shouted: “We came to the square to say “No” to Satan (the devil)!”, “Freedom!” “Resign!”. In the situation the police intervened.
Meanwhile, Deputy of the Milli Majlis (Parliament) Malahat Ibrahimgizi said that the opposition supported by some foreign forces pursues only one purpose-to discredit the successes Azerbaijan achieved in all spheres in recent years, the policy was quoting Trend news agency.
“The people of Azerbaijan clearly does not accept them, do not believe them. Our nation has chosen the path of prosperity,” she said. Ibrahimgizi recalled: “When 24 years ago the current opposition was in power, the situation in which the nation was? People were standing in bread lines, everyone lived in poverty, couldn’t get a hard-earned salary. Each and Sundry, have created a gang and worked in Azerbaijan that wanted in the country was not a disciplined army. Our people have survived this difficult period, and everyone knows that represents the current opposition,” – said the Deputy.
In her opinion, the opposition is unable to gather many people at gatherings that are called meetings. So, at the last rally managed to gather less than 200 people”, – said the Deputy.
West drew attention to the “arrests and intimidation”
Meanwhile, the international human rights organization Amnesty International, known for its Pro-Western attitude, said that the Azerbaijani authorities are suppressing protests against the referendum, encroached on the freedom of expression of civil society, moreover, their actions are reminiscent of the punitive operation. “The referendum was initially accompanied by arrests and intimidation. Those who dared to criticize and campaign against the proposed amendments, assaulted and harassed by authorities”, – said Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia Amnesty International Denis Krivosheev. The portal reminded that back in August arrested three political activists of the opposition movement “Republican Alternative” (REAL) which began to collect signatures of opponents of the referendum, among them Executive Director of REAL Natig Jafarli.
In addition, local human rights activists claim that Azerbaijan has more than 70 political prisoners. “Every election campaign in Azerbaijan is becoming a campaign of intimidation of civil society. The Azerbaijani authorities are obliged to respect international obligations on human rights and to give everyone, including their critics, the opportunity to freely Express their opinion” – called torticollis.
Azerbaijani citizens choose security, not democracy
The political scientist, the head of the Institute of the newest States Alexei Martynov said in comments the newspaper VIEW: many observers say that the new edition of the Azerbaijani Constitution is offensive for rights and freedoms, the retrenchment of democracy, the path to autocracy and totalitarianism.
“On the other hand, look at what complicated the region is Azerbaijan, to neighboring Turkey, Iraq. While in terms of foreign policy turbulence, taking into account the threat of an Islamic revolution, citizens of Azerbaijan choose security, not democracy,” – said the expert newspaper VIEW.
He also recalls that the Americans after 11 September also adopted the formula “freedom in exchange for security”, agreeing with the extension of the powers of the security services.
Martynov believes that Azerbaijan is very vulnerable from the point of view of preserving the statehood. “If the Azerbaijanis want to protect themselves through the introduction of elements of totalitarianism, that is their right. Let them choose a form of life which is convenient to them. Importantly, Azerbaijan has not posed a threat to neighbouring States,” he explained.
The expert notes that Aliyev enough internal enemies, and it is not only Western-funded secular opposition, but also many Islamists. “In addition, the threat of a military coup. Officers trained in the Turkish military academies, are accustomed to receive from Aliyev large sums of money. Now, when with the fall in oil prices has pushed them from the trough, they can get out of obedience” – says the analyst.
“State revenues decreased several times”
Azerbaijani scientist, the head of the club of political scientists “South Caucasus,” Ilgar Velizade, believes that constitutional reform in Azerbaijan is primarily caused by internal processes, not foreign factors.
“The fall in energy prices has seriously affected the social and political situation in the Republic. The state budget revenues in recent years has decreased several times. Economic reforms aimed at the development of other sectors of the economy, was announced last year, but their implementation required a simultaneous political reform”, – said the expert newspaper VIEW.
Velizade recalled that from the late autumn of last year the country created new state institutions, particularly in December, was created the Institute of public law governing the activities of the Central Bank. Insertion of amendments to the Constitution, in particular the introduction of the post of Vice-President, directed not so much at strengthening presidential power, but on the removal of a number of political functions of the Cabinet of Ministers, which will bear the brunt of the economic reforms.
The heir is the successor to reflect earlier
As for lowering the age limit, Velizade does not share the theory that this is done in order to enter into the power of the members of the Aliyev family. Previously, a number of observers pointed to the fact that his son, Ilham Aliyev, Heydar, named after the famous grandfather, was 19 years old.
Velizade do not agree with those who believe that 54-year-old President has already thought about who to appoint the successor. “All these talks are without any Foundation. Ilham Aliyev has the opportunity to be elected unlimited number of times, he’s young for a politician. Question about the transfer of power is not worth it. Most likely, the government wants to grow at the expense of new, young officials,” – said the expert.
In addition, the analyst is skeptical about protesting against changes to the Constitution of the opposition. “They had the opportunity to Express their opinion, but they once again demonstrated that they can not influence neither the political process nor on the minds of people. All their slogans hailing from the early 1990-ies, the rhetoric is not connected with reality. In addition, they were not worth none of the domestic elites, their major donors are Western organizations. Their meetings are few”, – Velizadeh said.
The political scientist also considers that the referendum will not affect the bilateral Azerbaijani-Russian relations. “Russia in recent years strongly supports Azerbaijan, ignoring criticism from the West, and Azerbaijan does not support the sanctions policy and anti-Russian moves in PACE and other international structures,” he said.