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AZERBAIJAN - Profile - Ilham Aliyev.

On Aug. 24, 2002, the Azeri people voted on changes to the constitution which smoothed the way for Ilham to become ruler after his father. One change included making the prime minister the second ranking person in the republic who would take charge should the president be unable to govern. This change is significant because the norm is that the speaker of parliament, who is elected by deputies, assumes power if the president steps down or dies. In contrast, the prime minister is appointed by the president.

Observers speculate that it may only be a matter of time for Aliyev to make Ilham prime minister, to replace current Premier Artur Rasizadeh. Others say, Aliyev may even ask his supporters to vote for Ilham in the presidential elections of Oct. 15. Ilham, 41, is the only son of President Aliyev and is a vice president in Socar.

Apart from being by far the most powerful man in Socar, Ilham is also deputy chairman of the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan Party (YAP, elected to this post in December 1999. He is also president of the National Olympic Committee of Azerbaijan, appointed to the post in 1997. He has been more visible since early 1998, and has been present at official functions. But he does not have the steel or charisma of his father. Ilham's standing was raised by the president's aides after he collapsed in April.

The Azeri Central Election Commission on July 4 registered Ilham as a presidential candidate for the Oct. 15 elections. He was nominated by a group of electorates from Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic on June 28. On July 15, Xanhuseyn Kazimov, MP and Chairman of the Azerbaijan Social-Welfare Party (ASWP), said at a news conference that the fifth congress of the party on July 5 nominated Ilham for the presidency and established the "Azerbaijan 2003: Ilham Aliyev's Election Centre".

Describing Ilham as a deserved successor of President Aliyev, Kazimov said the candidacy for presidency was nominated within the appropriate legal framework and the ASWP would support all public and political forces backing his candidacy. Kazimov added: "I don't consider Haidar and Ilham Aliyev as rivals, as the party will continue supporting Ilham Aliyev even if he recants his candidacy. There are no serious differences between Haidar and Ilham Aliyev's political positions, as they pursue the same policy".

Born on Dec. 24, 1961, in Baku, Ilham studied in elementary and secondary school of the city of Baku between 1967 and 1977. After graduating from the school in 1977, he entered Moscow State University of International Relations, where he graduated in 1982. He then entered a post-graduate course in the same university. Between 1985 and 1990 he was a teacher at the university.

Ilham entered business in 1991 and until 1994 he was active in commercial activities in Moscow and Istanbul. He was appointed first vice president of Socar in May 1994, and entered parliament in 1995 as a member. Ilham is fluent in Azeri, Russian, English and French. He has two daughters and a son.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Operations in Oil Diplomacy
Geographic Code:9AZER
Date:Jul 28, 2003
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