Azerbaijani president dismisses district governors, saying "no one is untouchable"

By bne IntelliNews March 4, 2016

President Ilham Aliyev has fired the executive chairmen of the Lachin and Jabrayil districts in Azerbaijan citing "complaints from the population" that the two officials did not behave "modestly" and were not "close to the people".

The western equivalent for the executive chairmen of a region would be regional governor. Azerbaijan has some 70 districts and cities that operate as regions, each of which has an executive chairman. Since the dismissal of the former security and telecommunications ministers - Eldar Mahmudov and Ali Abbasov - in October and November, Aliyev has made a point of proving that no one is above the law, and that "no one is untouchable". Subsequently, he fired his all-powerful chief of staff.

But the extent of lawlessness practised by political elites in the country is not confined to those fired, as many influential individuals amass money and power thanks to their posts. In a country where the president and first family are believed to own gold mines, three telecommunications operators, banks, travel agencies, and most upmarket hotels and restaurants in the capital city, an earnest corruption clean-up ought to start at the top.

According to presidential aide Zeynal Naghdaliyev, the two fired officials "demonstrated arrogance, partiality, intolerance to criticism, indifference to people's fair demands...As a result, they lost their reputation". "These persons failed to justify the president's confidence, precisely lost his confidence," he added. "No one is untouchable. If certain high-ranking officials break the law or fail to perform their duties, they will be punished," Aliyev warned at a recent conference.

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