Azerbaijan holds referendum on boosted presidency


BAKU: Azerbaijanis went to the polls Monday in a controversial referendum on handing extra powers to long-serving President Ilham Aliyev, with opposition and rights groups criticizing the proposed constitutional changes as undemocratic. The amendments would extend the president’s term in office from five to seven years, and create a powerful new first vice-president position and several other vice-presidencies. Opposition groups staged mass protests ahead of the referendum, denouncing it as Aliyev’s effort to extend his family’s long grip on power in the oil-rich former Soviet republic. The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts said the draft modifications of the constitution “would severely upset the balance of power by giving unprecedented powers to the president.”



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