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Azerbaijan Opposition to Boycott Term Limit Referendum

Opponents of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev say they will boycott an upcoming referendum that could enable him to remain in power for life.

The March 18 plebiscite will ask voters to remove limits of two consecutive five-year presidential terms currently specified in the country's constitution.

Azerbaijani officials have downplayed the significance of the opposition move.

President Aliyev won a second five-year term in October polls that were boycotted by the opposition. He succeeded his father, a former Soviet-era communist party official who served as president from 1993 until his death in 2003.

The president's critics insist that lifting term limits will essentially make Mr. Aliyev president for life. Opponents have also accused the United States and Europe of ignoring recent political and media restrictions imposed by the Aliyev government, for fear of losing access to the country's vast energy reserves.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.