Putin hails Aliyev's victory in Azerbaijan's presidential election

Putin hails Aliyev's victory in Azerbaijan's presidential election

Putin hails Aliyev's victory in Azerbaijan's presidential election

Azerbaijan strongman Ilham Aliyev on Thursday secured a fourth consecutive term with 86 percent of the vote in elections that worldwide observers said were marred by "serious irregularities" and lack of competition.

The former Soviet republic's huge energy reserves and strategic location on the Caspian Sea make it an important alternative for Europe to Russian oil and gas.

According to the final figures, the incumbent head of state, Chairman of the New Azerbaijan Party Ilham Aliyev garnered 86.03 percent of votes in the race.

The partial results were based on the 65 percent of the ballots counted, he said.

"I wish you new success in this responsible post on the path to the prosperity of fraternal Azerbaijan and successful implementation of all the plans", the Kazakh leader wrote.

"Citizens of Azerbaijan have voted for security and progress", he said in a televised address.

Aliyev won his fourth therm in an election boycotted by major opposition parties, who accused him of authoritarianism and suppressing political dissent.

"Voters have made the right choice, and this choice is Ilham Aliyev", said Ali Akhmedov, the party's senior official.

Not a single election held in Azerbaijan since Aliyev came to power in 2003 has been recognised as free and fair by global observers.

Aliyev, 56, has led Azerbaijan since 2003.

After constitutional changes in 2016, the presidential term is now seven years (formerly five) and the president has the power to call for snap elections provided they be held not less than 60 days from the day of the order.

They have also condemned Aliyev's surprise - and unexplained - decision to hold the election six months ahead of schedule, saying it was aimed at shortening the campaign period and hampering efforts to prevent vote-rigging.

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