Obama Campaign Manager to Make Surprise Visit to Azerbaijan

BAKU — David Plouffe, who served as campaign manager for Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, is due to visit Azerbaijan on February 8.

Plouffe is scheduled to speak at Baku’s Gerb (Western) University on February 9 and then meet with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and parliament speaker Oktay Asadov.

The U.S. Embassy in Baku confirmed Plouffe’s trip. Embassy spokesman Terry Davidson told RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service that "Plouffe is coming as a private citizen. The embassy is not in charge of his schedule."

Local media says he was invited by the Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan, which is a pro-government NGO and mouthpiece of the president’s office.

The visit comes one month before a controversial referendum in Azerbaijan to lift the ban on presidential terms, making it possible for Aliyev to continue to serve as president.

Through an aide, Plouffe declined a request for an interview by Radio Free Europe.

Plouffe is employed by AKPD Meda and Messaging, a political consulting firm that works for Democratic candidates and causes. The firm’s founder is David Axelrod, who was the chief strategist on Obama’s presidential campaign.

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