President of Azerbaijan appoints his wife as first vice-president

Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his glamorous wife as first vice president, the latest move seen as tightening the family's iron grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation.

On Feb. 21, upon Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's order, Mehriban Aliyeva was appointed the first vice president of Azerbaijan.

The role of first vice-president was created following a constitutional referendum in September and was added to the first lady's already impressive curriculum. "Mr President, I express my deep gratitude to you for this high confidence in me", she said, quoted in Trend. President İlham Alivey of Azerbaijan, despite being in power with no effective opposition since the passing of his father, Heydar Aliyev, in 2003, chose to increase presidential powers right after the military coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

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The constitution doesn't describe the first vice president's powers, but it's expected that they will include overseeing the Cabinet.

Mehriban Aliyeva's 55-year-old husband has been Azerbaijan's president since 2003. The goal of the referendum was explained to the people as to consolidate stability in the oil-rich Caucasus republic and make Azerbaijan stronger.

The other vice-presidential post remains vacant.

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European institutions and rights bodies have accused the Azeri authorities of curbing free expression and preventing fair elections.

"This appointment shows disrespect to the people", Ali Kerimli, the leader of Azerbaijan's opposition Popular Front Party, said.

Mehriban Aliyeva was born in Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, in 1964. "It's the first step to the establishment of an absolute monarchy in the country".

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"First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva appears to have had substantial cosmetic surgery, presumably overseas, and wears dresses that would be considered provocative even in the Western world", one leaked cable said.