Politics of Azerbaijan


Politics of Azerbaijan

The Politics of Azerbaijan take place in a framework of a presidential republic, with the President of Azerbaijan as the head of state, and the Prime Minister of Azerbaijan as head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is nominally independent of the executive and the legislature.

Political history

Azerbaijan declared its independence from the former Soviet Union on August 30, 1991, with Ayaz Mutalibov, former First Secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party, becoming the country's first President. Following a massacre of Azerbaijanis at Khojali in Nagorno-Karabakh in March 1992, Mutalibov resigned and the country experienced a period of political instability. The old guard returned Mutalibov to power in May 1992, but less than a week later his efforts to suspend scheduled presidential elections and ban all political activity prompted the opposition Popular Front Party (PFP) to organize a resistance movement and take power. Among its reforms, the PFP dissolved the predominantly Communist Supreme Soviet and transferred its functions to the 50-member upper house of the legislature, the National Council.

Elections in June 1992 resulted in the selection of PFP leader Abülfaz Elçibay as the country's second president. The PFP-dominated government, however, proved incapable of either credibly prosecuting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict or managing the economy, and many PFP officials came to be perceived as corrupt and incompetent. Growing discontent culminated in June 1993 in an armed insurrection in Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city. As the rebels advanced virtually unopposed on Baky, President Elçibəy fled to his native province of Nakhchivan. He died in 2000. The National Council conferred presidential powers upon its new Speaker, Heydar Aliyev, former First Secretary of the Azerbaijani Communist Party (1969-81) and later a member of the U.S.S.R. Politburo, the KGB, and USSR Deputy Prime Minister (until 1987). Elçibəy was formally deposed by a national referendum in August 1993, and Əliyev was elected to a 5-year term as President in October with only token opposition. Əliyev won re-election to another 5-year term in 1998, in an election marred by serious irregularities.

Azerbaijan's first Parliament was elected in 1995. The present 125-member unicameral Parliament was elected in November 2000 in an election that showed little improvements in democratic processes, but still did not meet international standards as free and fair. A majority of parliamentarians are from the President's "New Azerbaijan Party." Opposition parties are represented in Parliament, but are suppressed and are not free to campaign before elections.

Azerbaijan has a strong presidential system in which the legislative and judicial branches have only limited independence.

Əliyev was an absolute ruler. Demonstrations were often suppressed with violence and reports of torture were widespread. Sharp censorship reinforced a pervasive personality cult.

The Speaker of Parliament stood next in line to the President, but the constitution was changed at the end of 2002: now the premier is next in line. This was done to make it possible for the son of the 80-year old Heydar, İlham Aliyev to succeed his father, who was admitted to a Turkish hospital on July 8, 2003 because of heart problems. In August, 2003, İlham was appointed as premier, though Artur Rasizade, who had been prime minister since 1996, continued to fulfill the duties of that office so that İlham could concentrate on his presidential election bid. In the October 2003 presidential elections, İlham was announced winner while international observers reported several irregularities. He was sworn in as president at the end of the month, and Rasizade became premier again.

Executive branch

President
İlham Əliyev
YAP
15 October 2003
-
Prime Minister
Artur Rasizade
YAP
15 October 2003The head of state and head of government are separate from the country’s law-making body.President is the head of the state and head of executive branch. The people elect the president for a five-year term of office. The prime minister is appointed by the President and confirmed by the National Assembly. The President appoints all cabinet-level government administrators (ministers, heads of other central executive bodies)

Legislative branch

The National Assembly ("Milli Məclisi") has 125 members, elected for a five year term in single-seat constituencies.It is the laws-making body.

Political parties and elections

After the presidential elections of October 15 2003, an official release of the Central Election Committee (CEC) gave Isa Gambar — leader of the largest opposition bloc, Bizim Azerbaycan ("Our Azerbaijan") — 14% percent of the electorate and the second place in election. Third, with 3.6%, came Lala Shevket Hajiyeva, leader of the National Unity Movement, the first woman to run in presidential election in Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, Human Rights Watch and other international organizations, as well as local independent political and NGOs voiced concern about observed vote rigging and a badly flawed counting process.

Several independent local and international organizations that had been observing and monitoring the election directly or indirectly declared Isa Gambar winner in the 15 October election. Another view shared by many international organisations is that in reality a second tour of voting should have taken place between the two opposition candidates Isa Gambar and Lala Shevket.
*Human Rights Watch commented on these elections: "Human Rights Watch research found that the government has heavily intervened in the campaigning process in favor of Prime Minister Ilham Aliev, son of current President Heidar Aliev. The government has stacked the Central Election Commission and local election commission with its supporters, and banned local non-governmental organizations from monitoring the vote. As the elections draw nearer, government officials have openly sided with the campaign of Ilham Aliev, constantly obstructing opposition rallies and attempting to limit public participation in opposition events. In some cases, local officials have closed all the roads into town during opposition rallies, or have extended working and school hours—on one occasion, even declaring Sunday a workday—to prevent participation in opposition rallies." (source: [http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/eca/azerbaijan/index.htm HTML format] )
*OSCE’s final report (source: [http://www.osce.org/documents/html/pdftohtml/1151_en.pdf.html HTML format] or [http://www.osce.org/documents/odihr/2003/11/1151_en.pdf PDF format] ) In addition to criticism by Human Rights Watch, several Azerbaijani journalists, including Eynulla Fatullayev and Elmar Huseynov, have been persecuted or been killed for their criticism of the government.Other parties include:
*Azerbaijan Communist Party ("Azərbaycan Kommunist Partiyası")
*Reformist Communist Party of Azerbaijan ("Azərbaycan Islahatçi Kommunist Partiyası", often known as "CPA-2")
*United Communist Party of Azerbaijan ("Azərbaycan Vahid Kommunist Partiyası")
*Azerbaijan National Independence Party ("Azərbaycan Milli İstiqlal Partiyası")
*Azerbaijan Liberal Party ("Azərbaycan Liberal Partiyası)
*Alliance Party for the Sake of Azerbaijan ("Azərbaycan Naminə Alyans Partiyası)
*Compatriot Party ("Yurddaş Partiyası")
*Azerbaijan Democratic Party ("Azərbaycan Demokrat Firqəsı")
*Azerbaijan Social Democratic Party ("Azərbaycan Sosial-Demokrat Partiyası")
*Virtue Party ("Fəzilət Partiyası")

Judicial branch

The judicial branch is headed by a Constitutional Court, which is only nominally independent.

Cabinet of Ministers

* Prime Minister
** Artur Rasizade
* First Deputy Prime Minister (Agriculture, Food, Economic Links with Russia, Light Industry, Privatization)
** Yagub Eyyubov
* Deputy Prime Minister (Culture)
** Elchin Efendiyev
* Deputy Prime Minister (Refugees)
** Ali Hasanov
* Deputy Prime Minister (Oil, Gas & Transport)
** Abid Sharifov

Ministries

* Agriculture
** Ismat Abbasov
* Communications & Information Technology
** Ali Abbasov
* Culture & Tourism
** Abulfaz Garayev
* Defence
** Safar Abiyev
* Defence Industry
** Yaver Jamalov
* Ecology and Natural Resources
** Huseingulu Bagirov
* Economic Development
** Heydar Babayev
* Education
** Misir Mardanov
* Emergency Situations
** Kamaladdin Heydarov
* Finance
** Samir Sharifov
* Foreign Affairs
** Elmar Mammadyarov
* Health
** Ogtay Shiraliyev
* Industry & Energy
** Natig Aliyev
* Internal Affairs
** Ramil Usubov
* Justice
** Fikrat Mammadov
* Labour & Social Protection of Population
** Fuzuli Alakbarov
* National Security
** Eldar Mahmudov
* Taxes
** Fazil Mammadov
* Transport
** Ziya Mammadov
* Youth & Sports
** Azad Rahimov

Parliament

* Speaker of Parliament
** Ogtay Asadov
* Head of Supreme Court
** Ramiz Rzayev
* General Prosecutor
** Zakir Garalov
* Central Bank Chairman
** Elman Rustamov

Administrative divisions

Foreign relations

Azerbaijan was elected as one the members of the newly established Human Rights Council (HRC) by the General Assembly on 9 May 2006. Term of office will begin on 19 June 2006. [http://www.un.org/ga/60/elect/hrc/ ]

Azerbaijan maintains good relations with the European Union, and could potentially one day apply for membership. See Azerbaijan and the European Union.

Military

The Azerbaijan Armed Forces consists of four military branches: the army, navy, air force, and air defense forces. The national armed forces of Azerbaijan were formed by presidential decree in October 1991.

In July 1992, Azerbaijan ratified the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE), which establishes comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment and provides for the destruction of weaponry in excess of those limits.

References

*Baas, Reyer (March 3 2003). [http://ams.wizard.pvda.nl/renderer.do/menuId/24890/sf/24637/returnPage/24890/itemId/13261/pageId/24637/instanceId/24896/ "Een lange weg voor Azerbeidzjan"] . "The Alfred Mozer Foundation".
*CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website
*Forrest, Brett (28 November 2005). "Over A Barrel in Baku". "Fortune", pp. 54–60.

External links

* [http://www.vetennamine.com Free Political Journal]
* [http://www.president.az President of the Republic]
* [http://www.constitutional-court-az.org Constitutional Court]
* [http://www.tragicdoughnuts.com/azerbaijan/constitution.html Azerbaijan Constitution]
* [http://www.azembassy.com Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Washington]


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