Upcoming Presidential Election In Azerbaijan Is A Powerful Symbol Of Country's Integrity And Sovereignty - Jean-Michel Brun

(MENAFN- Trend News Agency) BAKU, Azerbaijan, January 17. Editor-in-chief of the La Gazette du Caucase online newspaper based in Paris, renowned French journalist Jean-Michel Brun has published an article about the upcoming presidential election in Azerbaijan, Trend reports.

The article reads as follows:

On December 7, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, decided to bring forward the date of the presidential election scheduled for 2015 to February 7, 2024.

A decision that has not failed to provoke comment, especially in the French media, and not always kindly.

What is the reason behind this early election?

Since October 2023, the country's situation has changed radically. Occupied for almost 30 years by Armenian forces, Azerbaijan regained its territorial integrity following a 44-day war in 2020, and a blitzkrieg in 2023 that liberated the town of Khankendi, where the last Armenian separatist fighters had been concentrated.

This is the first time since the invasion of 1993 that Azerbaijan has regained sovereignty over its entire territory. The country is thus, in President Aliyev's own words, entering a "new era", which in his view justifies the need to set the record straight.

President Ilham Aliyev also mentioned a second, equally symbolic reason. It will be 20 years since he took office. His re-election is hardly in doubt, as Ilham Aliyev's popularity is currently at an all-time high. His handling of the conflict, which took everyone by surprise, including the Armenians, and ended in a resounding military victory, is approved by over 75 percent of Azerbaijanis. A stroll through the streets of Baku in recent months was enough to witness the spontaneous outpouring of popular jubilation, fuelled as it was by the ambitious program to rebuild the towns destroyed under Armenian occupation.

The return of the former inhabitants of Karabakh to their native lands has already begun and, for the first time since independence, all regions of the country will be able to take part in the ballot. Former refugees who were expelled from Karabakh in 1993 and who have now returned to Shusha, Aghdam, and Fuzuli in particular, will be able to take part in the ballot from the liberated territories. The fact that the first election to be held throughout the country is a presidential election is naturally a powerful symbol for the Azerbaijani nation.

Another reason for Azerbaijanis to support the outgoing president is that the situation in the region is far from stabilized, and his determination and strategic sense make him, in their eyes, the best candidate to negotiate a lasting peace with the Armenians and the main regional players.

The armed separatist groups that were able to escape from Karabakh and find refuge in Armenia are continuing their training there, with a view to the resumption of hostilities they are calling for, even if it means overthrowing the Pashinyan government, whose "defeatism" they criticize. France continues to lead the way in military and financial support for the Armenian nationalists, in particular with its promise to deliver heavy armaments to Armenia. The Azerbaijanis, who have witnessed the strategic skill of their leader, will undoubtedly renew their confidence in him to protect the country and ensure stability in the Caucasus, to show no weakness or procrastination in the face of potential external threats, and to further strengthen the country's military power. The state is expected to invest over 500 million euros in the defense industry by 2024.

President Ilham Aliyev's other success is economic. Azerbaijan is now recognized as a reliable energy partner by the EU, and an ambitious energy transition plan is being developed, notably through the construction of "smart", resource-efficient cities in the liberated Karabakh.

Other projects await the future president of the republic, such as the standard of living and the international cultural influence of Azerbaijan, a priority for the country's authorities.

According to the schedule, the election campaign begins 23 days before polling day and ends 24 hours before polling day. It began on January 15, 2024, and will end on February 6 at 8:00 a.m. The election will take place on February 7, based on a two-round first-past-the-post system for an unlimited seven-year term.

More than 17,500 observers will be accredited to monitor the presidential elections, Mazahir Panahov, Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, told journalists. He stressed that there would be three observers in each of the 6,300 polling stations: "The more observers, the better".


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