Azerbaijan: Azerbaijanis vote on boosting president’s powers | Al Jazeera

Azerbaijanis have started voting in a controversial referendum on boosting presidential powers, with opposition and rights groups denouncing the proposed amendments as a move to expand President Ilham Aliyev’s grip on power. If passed, the referendum would extend the president’s term in office from five to seven years, would introduce a new position of first vice president – who would become the country’s second most powerful leader, instead of the prime minister as is the case now. The proposed constitutional changes also allow the president to call snap leadership elections at will, and easily dissolve parliament. … Opposition groups staged mass protests in the run-up to the referendum, accusing Aliyev of trying to extend his family’s control over the oil-rich former Soviet republic.

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