Azerbaijan’s ruling party announced today that their leader, President Ilham Aliyev, will run for a third term in 2013. Now who saw that coming?
The nomination was "definite," solemnly declared Ali Ahmedov, the executive secretary for Yeni Azerbaijan Party, as if the matter had not been as clear as day ever since Aliyev assumed the presidency in 2003.
Several days ago, Aliyev's opponents had argued that preventing the president from seeking reelection would be key to leveling the field for the 2013 vote.
“If Ilham Aliyev runs for the third time, there will be no room for a fair election,” Kavkazsky Uzel reported Panah Huseynov, one of the coordinators of the Public Chamber movement, as saying.
But running forever runs in the Aliyev family. Ilham Aliyev all but inherited the presidency from his late, glorified father Heydar Aliyev, who died a president. And when it comes to holding on to power, Ilham is his father’s son.
For now, the opposition’s plan is to mount a public push for democratization and to appeal to the international community for help. But the Aliyev government has shown in the past its taste for crackdowns, and Western governments, their eyes both on Azerbaijan's energy resources and its strategic proximity to Iran, usually do little more than wag a finger at Aliyev’s authoritarian practices.
Looks like the opposition strategists will need to think creatively if they don’t want to see another “definite” result in 2013.