Azerbaijan’s Republican Alternative (REAL), an opposition movement, will not register as a political party.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) on April 9, a member of REAL’s Council, Natiq Cafarli, said the decision to turn the movement into a political party was made at an online meeting held over the weekend.
The announcement comes ahead of an April 11 snap presidential election that appears certain to be won by authoritarian President Ilham Aliyev, who succeeded his father in 2003.
Cafarli said REAL’s main goal is to turn Azerbaijan from a presidential to a parliamentary republic and “reinstate republican values in the country”.
He said that REAL does not plan to apply to the justice ministry for registration as a party because it will be refused. There was no immediate comment from the ministry.
REAL leader Ilqar Mammadov was elected as the new party’s chairman, Cafarli said.
Mammadov was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2014 after being convicted of organising and taking part in mass protests in the northern town of Ismayilli to demand the resignation of a provincial leader.
Human rights groups have described Mammadov’s imprisonment as politically motivated.