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Azerbaijan’s citizens cast ballots in referendum to extend presidential term

September 26, 2016, 11:15 UTC+3 BAKU

Extention of the presidential term and cancellation of age restrictions are among other issues to be decided at a referendum being conducted in Azerbaijan

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Ilham Aliyev (archive)

Ilham Aliyev (archive)


BAKU, September 26. /TASS/. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has cast his ballot in the referendum on constitutional amendments that is being held in the country on Monday. The amendments to the constitution were proposed by Ilham Aliyev.  He left the polling station without giving any statements to the press.

Several amendments concern the rights and freedoms of citizens and envisage introducing changes to 15 articles. Others deal with commitments that Baku undertook in joining international treaties and conventions.

Experts are especially interested in the amendments to the state system. They envisage establishing the positions of first vice-president and vice-president that will be appointed and dismissed by the head of state. If the president resigns before his successor is chosen, the first vice-president will serve as acting president instead of the prime minister. The presidential term is also planned to be increased from five to seven years, and the powers of the president may be broadened if people vote to allow him declare early presidential election and dissolve the parliament.

The amendments also envisage cancellation of all age restrictions. The minimal age for president, which is now stands at 35 years, is proposed to be cancelled while citizens may also receive the right to be elected to the parliament not from 25, but from 18 years.

The opposition is against the constitutional reform, saying that amendments and changes to the constitution infringe on the democratic freedoms, strengthen the current authorities and even "create the monarchy system of governing."

A question at the referendum will be considered as approved if over 50% of voters support it, while the plebiscite itself will be considered as legitimate is at least 25% of voters take part in it.

The voting in the referendum is being conducted at 5,267 polling stations in 125 districts, with more than 53,000 local observers and 117 international representatives monitoring the voting. Four organizations are conducting exit polls: Arthur J. Finkelstein & Associates from the US, OpinionWay from France and two local organizations, the ELS Center and Ryay (or Opinion).

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