Azerbaijan strongman names wife to position

President Ilham Aliyev announced the promotion of his wife, Mehriban, at a meeting of the Azerbaijan security council on Tuesday, describing her as a "professional, experienced and principled person" as well as a "humanitarian".

For the first time, the meeting was attended by Mehriban Aliyeva, appointed today the First Vice President of the Republic. Whenever the President of the Azerbaijan Republic resigns from his post ahead of time, extraordinary elections of the President of the Azerbaijan Republic are held during the period of 60 days.

Her father Arif Pashayev is a wealthy and successful businessman in Azerbaijan. President İlham Alivey of Azerbaijan, despite being in power with no effective opposition since the passing of his father, Heydar Aliyev, in 2003, made a decision to increase presidential powers right after the military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. But her most prominent role until now has been as head of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, a philanthropic organisation.

Known for her stylish dress sense and immaculate appearance at public events, Mehriban Aliyev, 52, is a member of parliament and a UNESCO goodwill ambassador.

Azerbaijan's opposition reacted furiously to Mr Aliyev's decision, saying family rule had no place in the 21st century.

He wished her success in high state post.

But critics argue they have crushed all opposition and used their power to amass a fortune that funds a lavish lifestyle for the president and his family.

European institutions and rights bodies accuse the Azeri authorities of curbing free expression.

The other vice-presidential post remains vacant.

Mehriban's collection of contemporary art forms the basis of a new museum of modern art in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

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