Azerbaijani president fires powerful transport minister Ziya Mammadov

By bne IntelliNews February 14, 2017

In a two-line presidential decree issued on February 13, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev announced that a new ministry - that of transport, telecommunications and high technology - has been created from the merger of the transport and telecommunications ministries, and that the new minister would be Ramin Guluzade.

The move means that Azerbaijan's powerful transport minister, Ziya Mammadov, has been effectively fired after holding the position for 15 years.

During his time at the helm of the transport ministry, Mammadov created a transport empire for himself and his family. The empire - Garant Holding - is headed by his son, Anar Mammadov, and has won numerous government transport projects, enjoying a near-monopoly on niches like taxi services in the capital city of Baku. The holding's operations also encompass international trade, hospitality, banking, gas production and telecommunications.

Mammadov's sudden and quiet dismissal is reminiscent of a wide-ranging purge at the security and telecommunications ministries in 2015, which led to the arrest and dismissal of hundreds of officials. Foremost among them were the then-telecommunications minister Ali Abbasov, who had also served in his position for over a decade, and the powerful then-security minister Eldar Mahmudov.

The reasons for the purge were allegedly corruption and extortion. However, both practices are considered to be commonplace in the opaque and oppressive country. Observers therefore speculated that the two ministers - and particularly Mahmudov - had fallen out of grace with the powerful head of state, Ilham Aliyev, who has grown increasingly suspicious of all around him.

New minister Guluzade, 40, is part of a younger generation of ruling politicians. 

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