Azeri opposition to rally against constitutional amendments

Azeri opposition to rally against constitutional amendments
The Azerbaijani opposition alliance plans to stage a rally on 11 September to protest against the planned referendum on constitutional amendments, the leader of the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party said on Facebook.

Ali Karimli said the National Council of Democratic Forces will try to get permission to hold the rally at a stadium in the city suburb at 1700 local time on 11 September.

"Let's together protest against plans to create constitutional grounds for the life-long family rule and social and economic problems which have become unbearable, let's demand fundamental reforms and say 'No to Monarchy' and 'No to robbery'!" Karimli said. (

The constitutional amendments to be put on referendum on 26 September propose increasing the presidential term of office from five to seven years, giving the president the right to dissolve parliament, decide on snap presidential elections, and appoint the first vice-president, who would take over the president's office if the latter is unable to fulfil his duties. The opposition sees the amendments as attempt to increase the powers of the incumbent president.

Embassies accused of backing opposition

Pro-government news website has harshly criticised the opposition in general and Karimli in particular for the plans to hold the rally. The website also said that the opposition received support from the West.

"Do you know under what slogans Karimli urges people to hold a rally? 'No to monarchy!' Does such a form of government exist in Azerbaijan? Has anyone usurped power in this country?" the website said in its 1 September article headlined "The US, UK and French embassies are preparing destabilisation in Baku".

It went on to say that, prior to announcing its plans on the rally, opposition leaders and activists held separate meetings at the US, UK and French embassies in Baku.

"Unreasonable and unhealthy diplomatic activities have started around this loose opposition comprising of nihilists ( Karimli), Islamists ( Haci Taleh), atheists (Khadija Ismayil), swindlers (Iqbal Agazada) and anti-realists (Ilqar Mammadov)... Judge for yourself, prior to Karimli's bellicose appeals, Western embassies open their doors to this group of radicals and welcome them with open arms," the website said. It provided detailed information about the dates and time of the meetings.

It added, citing unnamed "reliable sources", that the opposition leaders and activists "have received instructions and directives to organize unauthorised rallies and other events aimed at destabilising the situation".

"It is also about financial backing for the forthcoming struggle against the legitimate government. The outlaws and the diplomats have agreed on systematic, regular and joint activities. The opposition was warned to act strictly in line with the public relations technique and instructions that would come from the US, UK and French embassies," it said.

It went on to say that the Foreign Ministry should react harshly.

"The Foreign Ministry, as well as other state agencies, ought to launch a probe, summon the diplomats who have colluded with Azerbaijani rioters, and, if required, to treat them just like former US ambassador Richard Morningstar was treated - to declare them persona non grata, take their credentials and expel them from the country!" the website said.