(New Eastern Europe) In a surprising move last December, Azerbaijan’s parliament voted to dissolve itself for presumably not living up to the president’s ambitious reform agenda. President Ilham Aliyev approved the deputies’ self-dissolution will and called for a snap election for February 9, 2020. Two months earlier, the head of presidential administration and Soviet-era apparatchik Ramiz Mehdiyev had been dismissed amid a government reshuffle under the slogan of attracting young people to accelerate economic reforms.
The Mehdiyev-linked group (also known as “old guard”) dominated by descendants from the Nakhchivan region comprised the former minister of internal affairs Ramil Usubov and ex-advisor Ali Hasanov, all appointed by Aliyev’s father. “Old guard” was considered one of the key factions in Aliyev’s ruling coalition. Its power could only be rivaled by the rising influence of the first lady Mehriban Aliyeva’s Pashayev group. The first lady-linked Pashayev group and its business conglomerate Pasha Holding have grown stronger over the past decade. Popular views are that Aliyeva holds ambitions to become the nation’s first woman president. In 2016, the constitution was amended to establish the post of vice presidency and the following year she was appointed as the first vice president. [...]
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