Azerbaijan strongman appoints wife vice president

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva outside the official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 21 February 2017
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Azerbaijan strongman appoints wife vice president

BAKU: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his wife as first vice president, the latest move seen as tightening the family’s iron grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation.
Mehriban Aliyeva “is appointed the first vice president of the Republic of Azerbaijan,” the leader said in a decree published on his website.
Prominent socialite Aliyeva, 52, has been a ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party lawmaker since 2005 and head of the influential Heydar Aliyev Foundation — named after her father-in-law and former president.
Born into the powerful Pashayev family, she has sometimes been seen as a possible successor to her husband, who took over in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar, a former KGB officer and Communist-era boss.
The appointment follows constitutional changes made after a tightly-managed referendum last year that introduced the powerful position of first vice president. Such steps were denounced by regime opponents as a ploy to cement the Aliyev family’s dynastic rule.
Azerbaijan’s embattled opposition angrily criticized Aliyeva’s elevation as undemocratic.
“The move throws Azerbaijan back to medieval, feudal times,” opposition leader Isa Gambar of Musavat party told AFP.
“Family rule has no place in the 21st century,” he added.
Known for her lavish tastes, Aliyeva featured prominently in US diplomatic cables published by Wikileaks, one of which dubbed her “a first lady, too, in fashion.”
“First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva appears to have had substantial cosmetic surgery, presumably overseas, and wears dresses that would be considered provocative even in the western world,” the leaked 2010 cable said.
An eye doctor by training, she has also authored a dissertation on the ethical aspects of mercy killing.


Indian doctors strike over violence from patients and families

Updated 5 min 33 sec ago
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Indian doctors strike over violence from patients and families

  • The strike is in solidarity with doctors in the eastern state of West Bengal after three were viciously attacked by the relatives of a man who died
  • The strike in West Bengal has crippled medical services for the state’s 90 million people

NEW DELHI: Tens of thousands of Indian doctors went on strike Monday calling for more protection against violence by patients and their families, as parliament met for the first time since national elections.
The nationwide strike, which will last until Tuesday morning, is in solidarity with doctors in the eastern state of West Bengal after three were viciously attacked by the relatives of a man who died.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), representing 350,000 of India’s 900,000 doctors, called for tougher punishments for those assaulting medical staff.
Blaming the attacks in part on “high expectations” by patients, poor infrastructure and inadequate staffing, the IMA said hospitals should have more security cameras and that the entry of visitors to hospitals should be restricted.
The strike, which does not include emergency services, takes place as parliament convened for the first time since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was re-elected in a landslide last month.
Doctors in West Bengal’s capital Kolkata have been on strike since last Monday, when a family assaulted three doctors after a relative died during treatment at a state-run hospital.
The family, who blamed the death on negligence by the doctors, lashed out violently and left two of the medical staff critically injured.
The strike in West Bengal, which has also been wracked by weeks of political violence with almost 20 people killed, has crippled medical services for the state’s 90 million people.
On Monday doctors in the state were due to discuss the strike with Mamata Banerjee, the state premier and fierce Modi opponent.
India spends less than two percent of its GDP on health care, making it one of the lowest investors in the sector globally, with the World Health Organization placing it below both Iraq and Venezuela.
However, Modicare — a quietly successful part of Modi’s surprising re-election — is a huge public health initiative set to benefit the poorest.