Ilham Aliyev Has Won Azerbaijan's Election, and It Hasn't Even Been Held Yet

Ilham Aliyev has won Azerbaijan's presidential election with 72.76% of the vote. But there's one catch: the election is Wednesday and the results were released Tuesday. The Central Elections Commission (Markezi Komissiyasi) accidentally released the results when they released a new smart phone app supposedly designed to provide up-to-date election information. According to the app, Jamil Hasanil, the only oppositional candidate to stand, received 7.4% of total vote. The app also stated how many people voted, the names of the different precincts and how many voters voted at various times during the day ... all the day before any of that information could have possibly been collected.

It was widely suspected that this election would be fraudulent. Most commentators on Azerbaijan expected President Aliyev to win re-election handily. Weeks before today's election, one florist told Euroasianet that they were asked to prepare flowers for Aliyev's re-election inauguration ceremony. Azerbaijan's alternative media channel Meydan TV has been circulating the news and reaction from Azeri democratic activists. One activist told them "I'm speechless. Even the façade of a real election in Azerbaijan has been proven a farce."

This is straight out of the Onion:


Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

The news of the alleged fraud will prove to be embarrassing to the United States, as Azerbaijan is a key ally against Iran. Ilham Aliyev has been president of the predominately Shia-Muslim country since 2003. He took over from his father and has been accused by his opponents of wide-spread human rights abuses ... many of which the U.S. is well aware of. Leaked U.S. cables noted that Azerbaijan maintains strong links with Israel, as Azeri authorities crush and abduct anyone who protests against Israel or its policies in the country. Other U.S. cables compared Aliyev to Sonny and Michael Corleone from the Godfather, concluding that the president has two sides to him.

The Michael side was where he showed "pragmatism, restrain and helpfulness towards integration with the West." And the Sonny "side" was marked by imprisoning bloggers and becoming "increasingly authoritarian and hostile to diversity of political views." But beyond expressing concerns over his abuses, the U.S. did very little to prevent it.

Azerbaijan puts the U.S. in a difficult position. It look hypocritical criticizing Iran when close allies of the U.S. are themselves engaged in widespread abuses. Iran held a transparent and relatively free election this year, while Azerbaijan appears to have done the opposite. It remains to be seen what will happen next but beyond outrage, it's unlikely that anyone will challenge the Azeri president. The U.S. government is unlikely to challenge the results either and will remain silent.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Usman Butt

British-based writer and commentator on politics, history, science and religious. Specializes on the Middle East and North Africa. Obtained an MA from the University of Exeter. See my other two blogs for more information and articles. Catch 21 UK- http://www.catch21.co.uk/author/usman-butt Future Foreign Policy- http://blog.futureforeignpolicy.com/author/usmanbutt/

MORE FROM

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.

American Health Care Act by the numbers: What to know about Senate Republicans' secret health plan

After drafting the ACA repeal and replace plan behind closed doors, the AHCA is out — and Senate Republican leaders are hoping to vote on it in a week.

Grizzly bear protections in Yellowstone National park are ending

A final ruling by US government officials will strike the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the list of threatened species after its population increased to 700.

Another day, another off-camera White House press briefing

The move to scale back on-camera press briefings comes amid Trump's increasing unwillingness to interact with the press.

Minneapolis might get a $15 minimum wage, but restaurant workers aren't celebrating

Discord has been brewing in Minneapolis over whether tipped work will be counted toward a $15 minimum wage.

These abysmal new poll numbers for House health care bill don't bode well for Senate version

Only 34% of Republicans approve of the new proposed law.

'Pizzagate' shooter gets 4-year prison sentence, lawyers urged judge to deter vigilantism

Welch stormed a Washington, D.C., pizza place and shot off a firearm because of the internet.

American Health Care Act by the numbers: What to know about Senate Republicans' secret health plan

After drafting the ACA repeal and replace plan behind closed doors, the AHCA is out — and Senate Republican leaders are hoping to vote on it in a week.