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BAKU, September 26. /TASS/. Overwhelming majority of Azerbaijani voters have supported amendments to the national constitution at Monday’s referendum, Ali Akhmedov, a deputy leader of the ruling Eni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) party, told journalists.
"Results of the exit polls demonstrate that Azerbaijani citizens answered positively to the questions put for voting. We trust the. The exit polls were conducted by professionals. So, we can say with confidence that Azerbaijani citizens have supported the initiative," he said.
"The referendum was a test of national confidence to President Ilham Aliyev," he said. "The test was successful. The voter turnout at the referendum has demonstrated popular support to the presidential policy."
According to Akhmedov, these amendments "will help make the constitution more up-to-date." He stressed that these amendments will create a reliable mechanism, political and legal base for reforms in the country. "The referendum was held in a calm atmosphere, with all laws observed. I think the decisions to be taken after the referendum will open up a new page in Azerbaijan’s history," he said.
According to the Central Election Commission, the referendum was recognized as valid since more than 3.3 million people have voted as of 17:00 local time (1 pm GMT) , which constitutes 63.6% of the voters. According to the country’s legislation the voter turnout threshold required to declare the voting valid is 25%.
According to exit poll conducted by France’s OpinionWay pollster on Monday, Azerbaijan’s voters have approved all the amendments to the national constitution put for referendum.
According to the exit poll results, a total of 89.3% of voters supported amendments concerning the country’s security and defense. Amendments on the changes in the structure of executive authorities won support of 88.9% of voters. As many as 90.1% voted in favor of amendments concerning ensuring human rights and freedoms and 88.8% of voters supported the idea of abandoning the age requirement for candidates for presidency and those running for parliamentary seats.
Constitutional amendments were initiated by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who suggested the constitution be supplemented by six more provisions, along with amendments to article 23. Thus, it is initiated to extend the presidential office term from five to seven years. Apart from that, it is suggested that a provision saying that a candidate for Azerbaijani president cannot be younger than 35 be excluded.
The draft provides for the introduction of the posts of first vice president and vice president. It also envisages a new provision vesting the president with a right to dissolve the national parliament and declare early elections of the head of state. The document also brings down the age of candidacy for seats in parliament from 25 to 18.