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Polls open in presidential election in Azerbaijan

Ilham Aliyev is expected to win by a landslide to extend his 15-year rule.

Polls have opened in an early presidential election in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan.

Voting began on Wednesday in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation where incumbent Ilham Aliyev is expected to win by a landslide, extending his 15-year rule.

The election that had been due in the autumn was moved up to April. Officials said the move was made because the country would be busy with various high-profile events in late 2018.

Mr Aliyev has led the country since 2003, when he succeeded his father. Surveys put support for him at over 80%.

Since he won the last election in 2013, Azerbaijan’s constitution has been amended to extend the presidential term from five to seven years.

Mr Aliyev’s critics denounced the 2016 plebiscite as effectively cementing a dynastic rule.

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