Azerbaijan has gone to the polls today to decide whether to give President Aliyev the job for life.
As he cast his vote the opposition were calling for a boycott arguing the two term presidential limit should not be lifted. The Aliyev family has dominated the former Soviet republic for decades. His father was president too. Most Azeris are expected to vote in favour of changing the constitution Mr Aliyev can rule after his term ends in 2013. Although rights group say Aliyev’s grip on power has brought curbs on democracy and media freedom. The Council of Europe has sent nine monitors to observe voting which ends this afternoon. Azerbaijan has huge oil reserves and is sandwiched between Russia and Iran at the threshold of Central Asia. Aliyev’s rule has coincided with an economic boom fuelled by oil pumped to Europe from the Caspian Sea in an area where Western governments and Russia are vying for influence. Azerbaijan says it is committed to international standards of democracy but the country has to be protected against forces trying to spread the seeds of instability.