On Tuesday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyeva appointed his wife, Mehriban Aliyeva to become the vice president.
Appointing the lawmaker and First Lady as the VP may not be common, but most dictatorial leaders have a way of appointing family members as members of the cabinet.
Report says that as an MP, she “chooses not to attend Parliament’s session”.
According to a U.S. leaked diplomatic cable,
“Embassy monitors, who have attended nearly every session over the past year, have never seen her present in Parliament,”
The office of the Vice president is said to have been newly carved out by the presidency last year. Thus, Mehriban has become the first Vice President the country has ever had.
To do the job the president has been singing the praise of his spouse’s competence for the sensitive position. The president said that his wife has a wealth of experience in social, political, cultural and international affairs.
“I was guided by these factors when taking the decision to name her as first vice-president of Azerbaijan”.
However it is believed that the appointment is a strategy to keep the leadership of the country within the family.
With Mehriban Aliyeva as the VP, she gets to succeed the president in an event where he dies.
The opposition has criticized the President’s pick for the 2nd most constitutionally top position, saying that the first lady is not a suitable pick for the position.
While his father started his presidential journey in 1993, the president took over the leadership of the country after the death of his father in 2003.
From a 5 year tenure, the president extended the tenure ti 7 years. This equally points to the afore-mentioned suspicion.
The opposition is not happy with the appointment. They say that making the leadership of the country a family business is not welcome especially in the 21st century.
“The move throws Azerbaijan back to medieval, feudal times,”
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One typical trait that is peculiar to dictatorial leaders is ensuring that family members are positioned at such top spots to protect the interest of the family.
A similar example is Guinea’s Obiang family where both father and son serve as president and Vice president.
The first lady who is known for her luxury was revealed by a leaked US document to have failed to impress US diplomats.
“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,”
Typical of most dictatorial leaders, the Aliyeva family is estimated to be worth over $3 billion.
According to documents discovered by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), they are worth much more than that with several investments outside of the country.