Baku, February 14, Interfax - The religious leaders of Azerbaijan have spoken in favor of the candidacy of the incumbent president, Ilham Aliyev, in the upcoming presidential election.
"We support the initiative to nominate Ilham Aliyev. Specifically, religious figures in their sermons should communicate the words of truth to their flock, without fearing anything. We should contribute to this good cause and not stay aside," Allakhshukur Pasha-zade, the head of the Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus, said at a meeting of the administration on the upcoming election on Wednesday.
Pasha-zade also said Aliyev "has always given much attention" to religion and believers.
"This [the presidential election] is a vital issue, and we would like to express our attitude to it," he said.
After the meeting, the religious leaders of Azerbaijan signed a statement calling for support of Aliyev's candidacy. The document was signed by Allakhshukur Pasha-zade, Archbishop Alexander of Baku and Azerbaijan, Milkikh Yevdayev, the head of the Mountain Jews community, Vladimir Fekete, a bishop of the Roman Catholic Church, and Robert Mobili, the head of the Albanian-Udin Christian community.
The next election was to be held on October 17, but on February 5, Aliyev signed an order to move it up to April 11.
The campaign will begin on March 19 and end on April 10.
The ruling party Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) nominated Aliyev at its February 8 congress. The relevant documents have been submitted to the CEC.
Aliyev has been president of Azerbaijan since 2003. He was re-elected in 2008 and 2013.
According to changes made to the Constitution of Azerbaijan in fall 2016, the president of the country will be elected for seven years.