BAKU – Azerbaijan is voting on Wednesday in a presidential election that looks certain to see president Ilham Aliyev seal a third term.
The 51-year-old leader came to power in a 2003 vote after the death of his father Heydar. Aliyev was re-elected in 2008 with 89 per cent of the vote.
Now, after a 2009 referendum allowed Aliyev to run again, opinion polls ahead of the vote put him on over 80 per cent.
Living standards in the mainly Muslim nation of 9.5 million people have soared in the past decade, with Azerbaijan becoming an increasingly important energy supplier to Europe and NATO ally.
Official turnout is expected to be robust. Some 5 million people are eligible to vote.
Aliyev for his part is expected to continue treading a cautious path between the West and Russia, ensuring that Azerbaijan remains a key energy source for Europe and US ally while not upsetting its giant northern neighbour.
Polls will close at 1900 local time (1400GMT) and the first partial preliminary results are expected out overnight.AFP