Referendum in Azerbaijan on constitutional changesSeptember 16th, 2016 Azerbaijan | News | Theme: Democracy for Azerbaijan (sticky)
September 26, Azerbaijan faces a referendum on constitutional changes aiming to strengthen the powers of President Ilham Aliyev. The proposed changes include prolonging the term of office from five to seven years as well as abolishing the minimum age for future presidential candidates. New posts as First Vice President and Vice President will be introduced and the powers for the President to dissolve the parliament will be expanded.
It’s not the first time that the South Caucasus nation changes its constitution. In 2009, a referendum abolished the term limits for the President, a decision criticized by the Council of Europe Venice Commission.
Establishing a constitutional frame for the consolidation of powers of the President, the changes further weakens the country’s already low human rights’ record. Property rights will in the proposal be restricted on the ground of “social justice and effective land use”. The freedom of assembly can also be limited to preserve “public order and morality”, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty describes in an article.
The tense situation in the neighborhood including the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia and the coup d’état attempt against the Turkish President earlier this year is argued to be two reasons for the President’s aspiration of being able to deploy armed forces without the parliament’s approval. Another important factor behind the proposed changes is argued to be the deteriorating Azeri economy, followed by the drop in oil revenues.
Politicians in the opposition and human rights activists in the country now fear increased pressure from the regime prior to the referendum.
Read more at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
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