Edit Content
Malik Ayub Sumbal is Senior Broadcaster, Political Commentator, and Media Consultant. Malik has been associated with world-leading media outlets and news channels. He has more than 18 years of experience while working on key editorial positions. Malik was President at the Consortium for Press Freedom (CPF), a leading organization working for the Press Freedom and Free Speech around the world.
Will Ilham Aliyev win another term as President of Azerbaijan?

Will Ilham Aliyev win another term as President of Azerbaijan?

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev is expected to win another term in office on Wednesday, while the opposition has boycotted the polls as usual and is even more divided than before.

Opinion polls say the president, who has been in power since 2003, will get 80 percent of votes in the oil-rich country, located on the banks of the Caspian Sea.

In the last election back in 2013, Ilham Aliyev won 85 percent of the votes and later changed the country’s constitution by increasing the presidential term from five years to seven years, a move denounced by the opposition.

Opposition parties in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan’s opposition has a problem in that it is much divided, weak and does not have the confidence of the people. There is a lack of vision in the opposition and it has no leader who can face the country’s challenges, like the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and the resulting refugee crisis.


Candidates’ posters are seen on a billboard ahead of presidential elections in Baku, Azerbaijan, April 10, 2018. /VCG Photo


Nagorno-Karabakh in western Azerbaijan has been occupied by Armenia and both countries have been involved in cross border firing and skirmishes. With such challenges on its doorstep, a weak leadership in Azerbaijan could endanger the country’s territorial integrity.

Located in the South Caucasus and bordered by Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran, Azerbaijan has an oil-driven economy and high geopolitical importance in the region.

A huge influx of refugees who fled from Nagorno-Karabakh and settled in the capital Baku and surrounding areas has been a big challenge, but the incumbent government managed to resettle one million migrants.

Meanwhile, Baku, with its fascinating mix of modern and old infrastructure, leaves no doubt that the current leadership has delivered on its promises for the development of the country.

Western criticism

Western so-called democracies have repeatedly criticized President Aliyev’s influence and power in the country.

The Old City of Baku, Azerbaijan, with modern Flame Towers stand in the background, March 16, 2018. /VCG Photo


But interestingly they let Baku hold the first European Games in 2015, even though it is not a member of the European Union.

It’s difficult to understand Western double standards in this case.

Anti-corruption campaign

Ilham Aliyev launched a massive anti-corruption campaign and cracked down on corrupt officials and ministries in his recent term.

He carried out reforms to the social services by launching ASAN, a state agency aimed at making government services more accessible to citizens using modern technology.

He also pulled the country out of a severe economic crisis by devaluing the currency after the massive slump in the global oil market, then opened the country to tourism, making it a popular destination for visitors from the Middle East and Asia.

Azerbaijan’s links to China were demonstrated when Baku recently inaugurated the Trans-Caspian Transit Corridor (TCTC), which is part of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

Under these circumstances, the people of Azerbaijan have no other option but to reelect Ilham Aliyev as their next president. He is a much stronger and visionary leader who can play well on all international diplomatic fronts.

(Malik Ayub Sumbal is a columnist, political analyst and broadcaster. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.)

Malik Ayub Sumbal is an Award-Winning journalist, Geopolitical Analyst, Commentator & Moderator. He is the author of his newly published book Tovuz to Karabakh, A Comprehensive Analysis of War in South-Caucasus. He tweet @ayubsumbal