An extraordinary session of Azerbaijan’s Milli Majlis yesterday accepted the resignation of its chairman, Rasul Guliev. The step had been expected after the public eruption of differences between Guliev and President Haydar Aliev over the scope and pace of economic reforms (see Monitor, September 10) Guliev, a member of the presidential Yeni (New) Azerbaijan party and second only to Aliev in the country’s political hierarchy, cited medical reasons for resigning. Aliev, presiding over the session, made sure the separation was nonacrimonious by thanking and embracing Guliev for past cooperation and offering him the post of ambassador to Norway. (Interfax, Western agencies, September 11)
Guliev is an oil engineer by training. The Norwegian company Statoil has substantial interests in Azerbaijan’s offshore oilfields.
Guliev’s resignation marks a victory for the cautious approach to economic reform, advocated by Aliev’s chief economic adviser Vahid Ahundov. The conflict in inner councils came to a head last month in connection with the Economic Memorandum under negotiation between Baku and the International Monetary Fund. Guliev reportedly urged full acceptance of the IMF’s loan conditions and recommendations for accelerated reforms. Ahundov, supported by Aliev, said social concerns dictated a gradualist strategy.
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