Our Analytics 8 october — 14:31

Why did Ilham Aliyev replace PM? (President's signal: Who can't cope will go)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV, HEAD OF HAQQIN.AZ GROUP

The election of 72-year-old Novruz Mammadov to the post of Prime Minister of Azerbaijan was as stunning news as his unexpected resignation. In Azerbaijan, the head of the Cabinet of Ministers is elected by the parliament on the proposal of the president.

Novruz Mammadov came with the wind of change, and left with the wind of change

A year and a half ago, in the spring of 2018, immediately after the presidential election, Ilham Aliyev submitted to the Milli Majlis the candidacy of his assistant for foreign affairs. Of course, by this time the post of prime minister had lost its former political significance, because a new constitutional post was introduced in the country of the first vice-president and the other two vice-presidents. The post of First Vice-President was taken by Mehriban Aliyeva, who was very popular among the Azerbaijani public, who de facto headed in the government of Ilham Aliyev the implementation of all significant major social and humanitarian projects. Based on the conceptual theory of Heydar Aliyev on political continuity, enshrined in the social contract of all social classes, the ruling party declared Mehriban Aliyeva, the Deputy Chair of the New Azerbaijan Party, 'the second political figure' of the power team. The president actually legitimised the social and political status of the first lady.

Thus, the position of the prime minister lost its political weight, the dominant powers of the chairman of the Cabinet acquired to a large extent technocratic and economic functions. If we consider the status of the Azerbaijani prime minister from a political science point of view, then in the format of a model of a super-presidential form of government, the prime minister is actually the first minister in the cabinet of the president himself.

This dilapidated Cabinet building is still a historical rarity

Following the 2018 presidential election, in his inaugural address, Ilham Aliyev announced a new stage in the qualitative transformation of the Azerbaijani economy. The president announced personnel reforms in the ruling team in particular, as well as the political regeneration of the ruling class as a whole. The ripening process of evolutionary change of elites has begun in Azerbaijan. The government included young ministers who were entrusted with the management of strategically important areas.

For example, the 41-year-old Inam Karimov, who implemented the anti-corruption project of the president 'ASAN Xidmet,' took the position of Minister of Agriculture. And to the 39-year-old deputy of the Milli Majlis, Fuad Muradov, in the conditions of a severe information war with world Armenianship, was entrusted one of the country's key destinations - work with the Azerbaijani diaspora. And the new Minister of Labour and Social Security, Sahil Babaev, at a very young age of 38, was sent to implement complex social programs. Ministers Mikayil Jabbarov, Ramin Guluzadeh, and Parviz Shahbazov, who have proven themselves in the government of Ilham Aliyev, are certainly in the spotlight with their reform initiatives and transformations in government departments. Before our eyes, there is a change of generations of the highest echelon of the executive branch. The change will continue. The President linked the transformation of the economy with personnel reform, for the personnel is not only responsible for the success of the reforms, personnel policy decides everything!

The government does not keep up with the president: big perturbations are at stake

The main postulates of the reform policy of Ilham Aliyev were clearly expressed in his theoretical moral and ethical representation of the system of relations between members of the ruling nomenclature. The President has repeated more than once that regardless of the merits and successes of one or another representative of the ruling team, the performance of an official, the competence and effectiveness of an official in the modern historical period will be taken as a basis for evaluating the activities of an official. Can an official cope with new tasks? Does he meet the new requirements of the president? Does he recognise his degree of responsibility in an era of change and transformation? Of course, one or another representative of the Aliyev team may have outstanding achievements in the construction of the Third Republic. But someone is tired, or is opposed to the spirit of change, and someone else, by virtue of his conservatism, does not perceive the transformation of the political system and economic basis.

After all, the president openly announced new priorities: 'In the coming years, additional steps will be taken to improve the business environment, economic reforms will deepen. In the economy, it is necessary to ensure complete transparency and put an end to all negative phenomena.'

Ilham Aliyev began his new presidential term with the resignation of one of the old-timers, Prime Minister Artur Rasizadeh. Represented in the leadership of the government of the Second Republic [Azerbaijan SSR], the first assistant to President Heydar Aliyev on economic issues, the 83-year-old former prime minister did not actually cope with the task of urgent and prompt economic transformation, ensuring transparency and combating bureaucratic negativity.

Artur Rasizadeh didn't cope too

The President submitted the candidacy of Novruz Mammadov to the Parliament. Although Mammadov did not have experience in managing economic sectors, the assistant to the president left the impression of a decent official, an innovator with progressive ideas and a thirst for speedy transformation. N. Mammadov was an experienced manager - for many decades since the presidency of Heydar Aliyev, he held high positions in the highest political hierarchy - deputy head of a department, head of a department, deputy head of the presidential administration, assistant to the president. The official's nomenclature experience and Mammadov's understanding of the country's systemic problems seemed to be in line with the president's hopes and aspirations...

However, as Prime Minister, N. Mammadov did not cope with the tasks. For a year and a half, the prime minister was unable to reorganise the work of the government and increase its effectiveness, to turn the Cabinet of Ministers into a locomotive of economic reforms initiated by the President. Economic and financial reforms stalled, and required constant personal intervention by the president. Without the president, things did not move. Moreover, N. Mammadov could not achieve an improvement in macroeconomic indicators, in particular, an increase in the growth rate of the gross domestic product, as the president repeatedly insisted.

And Novruz Mammadov didn't cope

Of course, the president highly appreciates the political devotion of Novruz Mammadov, and he will remain in the ranks of the ruling team. But in this particular case, the ex-prime minister did not cope with his duties, which led to the president making a new choice.

Ilham Aliyev introduced the candidacy of the new Prime Minister, Ali Asadov, his assistant for economic affairs of many years. The young 38-year-old head of the Department of Economics at the Baku Institute of Social Management and Political Science, a graduate of the world-famous Moscow Plekhanov Institute, Doctor of Sciences Ali Asadov, back in 1994, was noticed by President Heydar Aliyev himself. Ali Asadov was elected to the parliament on the list of the New Azerbaijan Party, and then he showed himself very actively in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe - he was part of the first delegation of Azerbaijan to PACE. And in 1998, Heydar Aliyev appointed A. Asadov as his assistant on economic issues. Artur Rasizadeh headed the government, and Asadov took the vacant seat of the presidential aide in the Administration.

President relies on Ali Asadov

Strangely enough, it was Ali Asadov who attended the last two meetings of the late President Heydar Aliyev in 2003 with BP President John Brown, which indicated a great confidence in the assistant. Subsequently, Ilham Aliyev trusted Ali Asadov just as much, entrusting him with the implementation of his most strategic projects and special assignments. From the supervision of SOCAR to the construction of the Baku boulevard, from the solution of the most important communal and economic tasks of Baku to the implementation of regional development programs... Over the past 16 years of Ilham Aliyev's presidency, the new PM, who in the past also served as the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration for Economic Affairs, was among the most experienced managers and business executives in the team of the head of state. And for many years, given the high confidence of the president in Ali Asadov, the expert community considered him as the most likely candidate for the position of prime minister.

Now, Ali Asadov will have to live up to the president's hopes and accelerate the program for the speediest non-oil industrialisation and the final phase of agrarian reforms. Transformations will be accelerated, and the process of reforming the economy, improving the conditions for the development of a competitive business, strengthening the banking system and carrying out the long-awaited financial reform should be led by the newly transformed Cabinet of Ministers. And as we have indicated above, the president will help to accelerate and expand reform policies.

And, finally, another important, and perhaps the most important conclusion after the change of leadership of the Cabinet of Ministers arises. The president gave an important signal to all officials, especially those who have held high government posts for a long time.

Ilham Aliyev gives a clear signal: whoever fails, will leave

No one is eternal in power, despite one's political merits, which were appreciated by the president and the public. As often repeated in the acropolis of ancient Greece, everything flows, and nothing remains in place. There is a code of ethics for an official who cannot occupy his position without meeting the requirements and challenges of the new era and new progressive programs of the president. In the new Azerbaijan, everything is very logical and simple - if the official does not work and does not cope, the president dismisses him. This is a signal to other officials, including members of the government: if you don’t cope, you will leave. Nothing personal, all for the good of the state and society...

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