- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN (AP) - Azerbaijan’s top election official says voters have overwhelmingly approved scrapping presidential term limits in the ex-Soviet republic.

Opponents of President Ilham Aliyev boycotted Wednesday’s referendum.

The vote will allow Aliyev to seek to remain in the presidency indefinitely if he chooses, potentially prolonging a dynasty that has led the oil-rich country for most of the past four decades.

Central Election Commission chief Mazair Panakhov says that support for abandoning the current limit of two consecutive terms was at 92 percent with votes from more than half the polling places counted.

Government critics had said eliminating the limits would be a step backward for democracy in a country that is of strategic interest to the West.

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