The head of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, wins the early presidential elections in the country. The head of state received 92 percent of the vote, according to official data from the country's Central Election Commission. “The Azerbaijani people elected Ilham Aliyev as the president of the country,” said the head of the central election body, Masahir Panakhov, on the evening of February 7. Voter turnout was 67.7 percent, he noted.

Aliyev's closest pursuer, according to the Central Election Commission, was parliament member Zahid Oruj. He received a little more than two percent of the votes, the Central Election Commission indicated.

The elections took place approximately five months after the military operation of Azerbaijani troops in Nagorno-Karabakh. For the first time in the history of Azerbaijan, citizens of the country were able to vote at 26 polling stations in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Aliyev and his wife Mehriban came to cast their votes at one of these polling stations.

According to Western agencies, the elections took place without the visible participation of independent media and in the absence of real opposition. Therefore, there was no doubt about the victory of Aliyev, who was running for a fifth term. The local opposition boycotted the elections, calling them a “farce.”

According to the leader of the Azerbaijani opposition Ali Karimli, quoted by AFP, “all fundamental rights are violated” in this post-Soviet country. Opposition parties “cannot work normally,” freedom of assembly is limited, and the media are subject to pressure from the government, Karimli said.

In recent months, Azerbaijani authorities have increased pressure on independent media and arrested several critical journalists who exposed high-level bribery, the agency notes. Human rights organization Amnesty International on February 6 criticized the authorities' intensified repression ahead of the elections as "a comprehensive, coordinated attack on civil society and the rule of law."

62-year-old President Ilham Aliyev has ruled the country since 2003, since the death of his father and predecessor in the highest government position, Heydar Aliyev. The elections, originally scheduled for 2025, were postponed by the country's current president to February 2024 and called in January "the beginning of a new era." Aliyev noted, that 2023 marked his 20th anniversary in power. “We must accept this as a certain result. The holding of presidential elections will also sum up this chronological period,” he said.

In 2009, a referendum in Azerbaijan approved an amendment to the constitution, allowing the head of state to stand for election an unlimited number of times. Another constitutional amendment passed in 2016 increased the presidential term from five to seven years. That same year, Aliyev appointed his wife Mehriban as vice president.