Ali Novruzov has a truly fantastic roundup of commentary on the recent referendum to amend the Azerbaijani constitution. For those who don't follow Caucasian politics, after being overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev proposed an amendment to the Constitution to eliminate presidential term limits. That amendment passed this week, meaning, essentially, that Aliyev (the guy who is pictured as "President of Kazakhstan" at the end of the Borat movie) will be president for life. Which is really what one wants to see in an ostensibly friendly petrostate on the norther border of Iran.
Ali's post is too long and detailed for me to really excerpt here, but I will pull a different quote from one of the blogs he quotes:
There were independent international observers at the referendum. Yeah, right. I am sure they were probably not much different than these guys (essential reading, trust me). I have no confidence anyway in the opinion of those parachuting short-term election observers, Western, Eastern or Marsian, as they naively assume that elections are only rigged at the very day of the elections. I think that about 95% of the voting manipulation takes place prior to elections or referendums, through intimidation of opposition activists, severely maiming of independent media, overall strategy of stimulating political apathy among citizens, etc. . One only needs to have a pervert mind and winning elections actually becomes very easy.
That jives exactly with what I saw in my year over there.
Also, let me recommend Flying Carpets and Broken Pipelines, which is maintained by one Arzu Geybullayeva, on whom I am very rapidly developing a blog crush -- a witty, independent-minded, world traveling, and lovely Azeri woman? What's not to love? And she even does sarcasm!
Added: Ilham (left) wants to remind you, via this lovely poster, that he's not up to anything sneaky, and just wants to be a good democrat.