Azerbaijan's President Sets Snap Parliamentary Elections For February

BAKU -- President Ilham Aliyev has signed an order setting parliamentary elections for February 9.

The announcement, posted on the president's website on December 5, comes three days after the National Assembly, dominated by the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP), approved a proposal to dissolve parliament and allow for the calling of snap general elections.

Officials have said an early vote would help modernize Azerbaijan's legislative branch and speed the course of economic reforms.

The Azerbaijani president has the right to dissolve parliament and call early elections.

The YAP party claimed a landslide victory in the 2015 elections that were boycotted by all of Azerbaijan's established opposition parties.

Aliyev has ruled the energy-rich South Caucasus country of nearly 10 million people since shortly before his father's death in 2003.

Despite its vast energy resources, the country has seen difficult economic conditions in recent years. Citizens have been hard-hit by rising inflation, unemployment, and the cost of staple goods.

Amid economic difficulties, Aliyev in October appointed former presidential aide Ali Asadov as the new prime minister.