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Azerbaijan’s ruling party leads in snap parliamentary vote

Azerbaijan’s ruling party was leading on Monday in a snap parliamentary election called by President Ilham Aliyev to consolidate power and speed economic reforms by replacing the old guard associated with his father, Reuters reports.

Candidates from the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) party won about 65 of 125 seats in the single-chamber parliament, Mazahir Panakhov, the Central Election Commission (CEC) head, said early on Monday after counting the results from around 110 districts.

A host of small parties and independents loyal to the government took almost all the rest.

The single-chamber parliament is elected every five years through voting for individual candidates in electoral districts.

Aliyev, who has been in power for 17 years, called the election in December, nine months before it was formally due. Officials from his ruling party said the move was “to support the president’s policy on reforms and personnel changes”.

In October, Aliyev dismissed his influential chief-of-staff, Ramiz Mehdiyev, and made other high-profile changes including the appointment of 62-year-old economist Ali Asadov as prime minister.

The president criticized the pace of economic reforms and said he wanted to clear out government officials who had reached pensionable age.

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