Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his wife to the post of vice president. Mehriban is the first to hold this post after it was created in September last year. The appointment will allow Mehriban assume leadership of the country if the president dies or becomes incapacitated.
Mehriban had graduated from a medical university. She has previously served as a lawmaker and heads the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. Aliyev showered praise on his wife for her social skills and political acumen. "I was guided by these factors when taking the decision to name her as first vice president of Azerbaijan," he said, according to The Irish Times.
As the vice president, Mehriban is expected to monitor the working of the Cabinet. However, the nation's constitution has not clearly chalked out her duties, reported AP.
The appointment has come under severe criticism from Aliyev's opposition. They said that the referendum in September sealed a dynastic rule in Azerbaijan. "The move throws Azerbaijan back to medieval, feudal times," Musavat party leader Isa Gambar told AFP.
Apart from creating a vice president's post, the referendum also extended the presidential term from five to seven years. Aliyev had assumed the office of president in 2003 after his father died. Aliyev's government has also faced criticism for alleged human rights violations and the suppression of dissent, reported BBC.