First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva’s appointment to the position of First Vice President in Azerbaijan will not have any fundamental effects on the lives of ordinary people, says political commentator Zardusht Alizade.
“The Azerbaijani people should be aware of the fact that the appointment of [First Lady] Mehriban Aliyeva as vice-president won’t have any social, economic nor political changes in Azerbaijan. The country will continue to be ruled as it was before”, Alizade said in an interview with Meydan TV.
President Ilham Aliyev appointed his wife to the position of First Vice President on February 21. The position was created by a referendum passed in September of 2016, that created not only the offices of vice presidents, but also extended the presidential term from four to six years.
In the event of the President being incapable of fulfilling his duties, the Vice President will now assume power, whereas earlier power would have been transferred to the Prime Minister.
Alizade commented on the fact that Azerbaijani civil society largely stood idly by while the event elicited a reaction on a global level.
“It’s not that the people are confused. The issue is that people understand that the change in the political elite makes no difference whatsoever. If the president had appointed the Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov or the former Minister of Transport Ziya Mammadov as vice president rather than Aliyeva, would it have made the people happy? No it wouldn’t have made a difference one way or the other”.
Despite the quiet reaction from civil society, users of social media have reacted more strongly to the Aliyev family’s increasing grip on power in Azerbaijan.
“It seems as if the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments have agreed that in order to change things in the country, they have to start fighting – ‘let them mess everything up, let the blood spill, so people forget about the political and social situation”, famous investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova wrote on her personal Facebook page on February 25, directly after a military clash occurred on the frontline in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Disputed Nagorno-Karabakh is a de-iure Azerbaijani territory currently controlled by Armenian forces.
Alizade agrees with Ismailova, saying, “it has been years that the government has been using such tactics to confuse and distract people. . .”