The people of Azerbaijan head to the polls Sunday to elect a new parliament, and dictator Ilham Aliyev is shaking in his boots. The government claims that the elections will be free and fair, but I don't think that anyone really believes that. Numerous opposition activists have been jailed in recent days. Most of them have been released, but the campaign manager of the opposition Democratic Party is still in custody. The opposition have also been banned from holding a ally in a central square in the capital, Baku. However, Aliyev's New Azerbaijan Party has been allowed to hold a gathering in the same square.
If allies of Aliyev "win", then there is going to be trouble. The opposition has said that they will take to the streets (ala Ukraine) if the elections aren't fair, and the government has said that they will take action to keep a Ukrainian style revolution from taking place.
The most interesting thing is that Aliyev is getting extremely paranoid (and he should be, post-Soviet governments have been dropping like flies). 12 government officials, including two cabinet members, have been fired for allegedly plotting a coup. A group of Ukrainian political activists have been barred from entering the country, as has Democratic Party leader Rasul Guliyev (ho was in self-imposed exile in the U.S.)
While I very much enjoy seeing a dictator so scared, Aliyev's paranoia scares me for one reason: paranoia is one thing, paranoia when you control an army is another. If there are street protests, I'm not sure that they will go as peacefully as they did in Ukraine. That said, I'm not sure Aliyev would be stupid enough to make a fool of himself with the entire world watching him.
So, I'll update you tomorrow about the election results. Stay tuned.
By the way: The opposition uses carnations as a symbol, so I'm predicting that the term "carnation revolution" will become part of the world's political lexicon within a week or two.Technorati: Azerbaijan, Democracy, Politics, News, Revolutions, Aliyev