Azerbaijan's Aliyev wins fourth term as president

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Regular elections were supposed to be held in Azerbaijan in October 2018.

The voter turnout was 75.14%, according to the CEC. The current head of state scored 86% of the vote.

In a message to the president-elect, the Kremlin said Putin "praised Ilham Aliyev's efforts aimed at strengthening friendly, good-neighbourly relations between Moscow and Baku".

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Opposition parties in the tightly controlled Caucasus nation have said the elections are a sham and accused the authorities of preparing to rig the vote.

But authorities rejected the criticism, insisting the vote was free and fair. I am confident that we will always move forward on the path of success.

The Yeni Azerbaycan Party, together with the Automobile Federation of Azerbaijan, didn't wait for the final results of the elections: they organised a street auto race in downtown Baku in order to celebrate Aliyev's victory.

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Mr Aliyev has led the country since 2003, when he succeeded his father. Ilham Aliyev invited Alexander Lukashenko to visit Azerbaijan at any convenient time.

Ilham Aliyev was re-elected in 2008 and 2013 in polls that were denounced by opposition parties as fraudulent.

New constitutional amendments extended the mandate from 5 to 7 years, while the prohibition to take that position for more than two consecutive terms was removed, which allows Aliyev to remain in power up to 2025.

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Highly restrictive laws related to the media challenge the freedoms of expression and the press, and extend also to website and social media content. Defamation is a criminal offense, punishable by imprisonment and with additional penalties for defamation of the president, further limiting the freedom of expression key to political campaigning, the observers said.