Azerbaijan holds referendum on boosted presidency

Azerbaijanis went to the polls Monday in a controversial referendum on handing extra powers to long-serving President Ilham Aliyev.
The amendments would extend the president’s term in office from five to seven years, and create a powerful new first vice-president position and several other vice-presidencies.
Opposition groups staged mass protests ahead of the referendum, denouncing it as Aliyev’s effort to extend his family’s long grip on power in the oil-rich former Soviet republic.
The Council of Europe’s constitutional law experts said the draft modifications of the constitution “would severely upset the balance of power by giving unprecedented powers to the president.”
Ilham Aliyev, 54, has led the country since his father Heydar, a former Communist-era boss, died after a decade in power in 2003.
He last won a landslide election victory in 2013