Azeri President Ilham Aliyev has signed a decree to dissolve parliament and hold an early election on February 9.
The announcement posted on the president’s website on Thursday followed Monday’s surprise vote by parliament, which is dominated by Aliyev’s New Azerbaijan party, to ask the president to dissolve the legislature and call snap polls.
A parliamentary election had been scheduled for November 2020.
The governing New Azerbaijan party’s executive secretary Ali Ahmedov has said an overhaul of parliament’s composition was needed to carry out Aliyev’s reform programme.
With most powers concentrated in the hands of the president, parliament has a limited role in Azerbaijan’s political system. The prime ministerial post is seen as largely a nominal role traditionally held by someone close to Aliyev.
Last month, Prime Minister Novruz Mammadov resigned in a shock and as of yet unexplained move.
Hours later, Aliyev named close ally Ali Asadov as Mammadov’s replacement. The technocrat’s appointment was unanimously approved by parliament.
First elected in 2003, two months before the death of his father, Heydar Aliyev, who ruled for 10 years, Ilham Aliyev was re-elected in 2008, 2013 and 2018.
He has cemented his position with two referendums, one in 2009 that scrapped a two-term presidential limit and another in 2016 that extended the presidential term to seven years from five. He appointed his wife Mehriban first vice president, the second most powerful post after the president, in 2017.
Under the Aliyev dynasty, Baku has faced strong international criticism for silencing dissent and media.