This article was originally published by RFE/RL
The head of Azerbaijan’s opposition National Council of Democratic Forces says the coalition will boycott an early presidential election that has been scheduled for April 11 under a decree by President Ilham Aliyev.
Opposition leader Jamil Hasanli announced the coalition’s boycott plans in an interview with Reuters on February 6, a day after Aliyev’s website published the decree bringing forward the date of the election.
The vote previously had been scheduled for October 17.
Aliyev’s decree did not explain the reasons for the decision but said the move was made in accordance with Azerbaijan’s constitution and the country’s Electoral Code.
Presidential adviser Ali Hasanov said the vote was being brought forward to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with “important domestic and international events” later in the year.
But the leader of the opposition Musavat party, Arif Hajili, denounced the change as “an operation to prolong Aliyev’s rule for another seven years.”
Speaking to RFE/RL, Hajili said he believes Aliyev’s main goal is to prevent the opposition from properly preparing for the poll.
He said he also suspects internal disputes within the ruling elite played a part in the decision.
Citing what he said were “ongoing disagreements inside the government,” he said that that “they want to have the elections as soon as possible.”
Another explanation for the change was that the state of Azerbaijan’s economy has worried Aliyev.