Constitution and Government – Azerbaijan
The Constitution of Azerbaijan and a series of laws passed in the second half of the 1990s reflect the aspiration to institute a democratic system of government in Azerbaijan and establish its formal mechanisms and institutions.
The present Constitution was adopted on November 12, 1995, in a popular referendum and is the supreme legal act in the Republic. It declares that Azerbaijan is a secular state with a clear separation between state and religion and it designates that men and women have equal rights and freedoms to which each person is entitled “irrespective of race, nationality, religion, gender, origin, property status, social position, convictions, political party, trade union organization, and social affiliation”.
The official language of the state is Azerbaijani, but all citizens have the right to free use of their native language. The Constitution provides for a division of power between three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial.
Azerbaijan has a presidential system. The President is the head of state, bearing ultimate responsibility for both internal and external matters, and is authorized to appoint and dismiss members of the Cabinet of Ministers, including the Prime Minister. The President serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and is elected in general elections for a term of five years, and can serve two consecutive terms. To be elected, a presidential candidate must receive at least two-thirds of the votes of the participants in the election. If this amount is not ascertained in the first round of elections, the second round is held. In the interim, the Prime Minister performs the duties of the President.
The President of Azerbaijan forms the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan, which is the supreme executive tool of the President, and is subordinate to him/her. The Cabinet of Ministers consists of a Prime Minister, his/her deputies, ministers, and heads of other central executive agencies. On a day when a newly elected President takes office and takes up his/her duties, the previous Cabinet of Ministers resigns.
At present, the principal Government officials are as follows: President – Mr. Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister – Mr. Artur Rasizade, Chairman of the Milli Majlis (Parliament) – Mr. Oqtay Asadov, Minister of Foreign Affairs – Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov.