Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev makes his wife country's vice president

Katie RamirezFeb 23, 2017

The president's order was announced during his meeting with the Security Council, according to Azerbaijan's presidential press service.

According to the amendments made to the Constitution following the referendum held on 26 September 2016, First Vice-President and Vice-Presidents of the Azerbaijan Republic are appointed and dismissed by the President of the Azerbaijani Republic, APA reported.

In public the Aliyevs, who have three children, present as a strong family team, with Ms Aliyeva (52) occasionally demonstrating a softer side to the regime.

In September, Ilham Aliyev organized a referendum which had the main goal of creating the position occupied now by Mehriban Aliyev.

In addition to her roles at the top of Azeri society, Aliyeva has been deputy Chair of the New Azerbaijan Party (Yeni Azerbaijan Party) since 2013, and an MP since 2005.

"The move throws Azerbaijan back to medieval, feudal times", opposition leader Isa Gambar of Musavat had said.

RFE/RL journalist Khadija Ismayilova spent 17 months in prison in 2015-16 over financial-crimes charges that she and supporters say were government revenge for her reporting on alleged corruption involving Aliyev and his relatives. The award is named after her father-in-law, the ex-KGB former President who ruled from 1993 to 2003, when his son took over.

An eye doctor by training, she is a member of Azerbaijan's powerful Pashayev clan, which, peopled for decades by distinguished academics and statesmen, has accumulated huge political influence and wealth during her husband's 13-year rule.

Elevation of Mehriban Aliyeva - a prominent socialite and lawmaker - sees her now become the country's second most senior official after her husband. "Mehriban Aliyeva is a woman who puts all of her heart, uses all of her skills, her beauty and delicacy, to enhance good-neighborly and friendly relations between all people, in particular, of course, between Russian and Azerbaijani people".

She pays a lot of attention to luxury and has been featured in Wikileaks' US diplomatic cables.

The First Vice President also assumes the presidency if the president is unable to perform his or her duties.

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