BAKU -- Azerbaijan's ruling party has nominated incumbent President Ilham Aliyev as its candidate in the snap April presidential election.
The New Azerbaijan Party's congress on February 8 named Aliyev as its presidential candidate three days after the president unexpectedly announced that the election would be brought forward to April 11 from October 17.
Aliyev's February 5 decree did not give the reasons for the decision but said the move was in accordance with the constitution and the country's Electoral Code.
Presidential adviser Ali Hasanov said the vote was being brought forward to ensure that it didn't interfere with "important domestic and international events" later in the year.
The constitution was amended in a controversial referendum in September 2016. The amendments have allowed Aliyev to order early elections.
In accordance with amendments to the Electoral Code introduced in December, early presidential polls must be announced at least 60 days in advance.
The head of Azerbaijan's opposition National Council of Democratic Forces, Camil Hasanli, said on February 6 that the coalition will boycott the early election.
The leader of the opposition Musavat Party, Arif Hacili, denounced the move as "an operation to prolong Aliyev's rule for another seven years."
Speaking to RFE/RL, Hacili said he believed Aliyev's main goal is to prevent the opposition from properly preparing for the poll.
He said he also suspected internal disputes within the ruling elite played a part in the decision.
Another explanation for the change was that the state of Azerbaijan's economy has worried Aliyev, Hacili said.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Bridget Brink told reporters in Baku on February 7 that the United States favored free and fair elections based on the Azerbaijani Constitution and international law.