BAKU (Reuters)–Veteran Azeri President Haydar Aliyev–undergoing treatment in a US hospital since early August–has pulled out of this month’s presidential election in favor of his son–the Azeri state news agency said on Thursday.
"I am convinced I will recover soon and come back to my home country to be with my people. Today I have withdrawn my candidacy in favor of Ilham," the agency quoted him as saying. He was referring to Ilham Aliyev–his son and current prime minister.
Aliyev senior–80–who has dominated Azeri politics in the oil-rich ex-Soviet republic for more than three decades–has been receiving hospital treatment since July for heart and kidney trouble–first in Turkey–then in Cleveland–Ohio.
The son became prime minister in August and is his father’s direct constitutional successor.
President Aliyev–a former KGB and communist party boss–had been widely expected to win the October 15 election.
His son–dismissed in the past by many as a political lightweight–is among a dozen candidates expected to run in the poll.