Europe

Azerbaijan's leader names his wife first vice president

  • FILE - In this Sunday, June 19, 2016 file photo, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva watch the last minutes of the Formula One Grand Prix of Europe at the Baku Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)

    FILE - In this Sunday, June 19, 2016 file photo, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva watch the last minutes of the Formula One Grand Prix of Europe at the Baku Circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE -  In this Friday, March 6, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis meets with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, left, and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, right, during a private audience at the Vatican. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, March 6, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis meets with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, left, and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, right, during a private audience at the Vatican. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Max Rossi, Pool, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Monday, July 13, 2009 file photo, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva pose outside the official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

    FILE - In this Monday, July 13, 2009 file photo, Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva pose outside the official residence at 10 Downing Street in central London. Aliyev appointed his wife to the post of the ex-Soviet nation's first vice president on Tuesday, Feb.21, 2017, a new position created after last year's constitutional referendum. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)  (The Associated Press)

Azerbaijan's president has appointed his wife as the first vice president of the ex-Soviet nation.

Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday named his wife Mehriban to the position created after a constitutional referendum in September. She has served as a lawmaker and headed a charity in the past.

Aliyev has firmly allied the energy-rich Shia Muslim nation with the West, helping secure its energy and security interests and offset Russia's influence in the strategic Caspian region. At the same time, his government has long faced criticism in the West for alleged human rights abuses and suppression of dissent.

Aliyev's critics saw September's referendum that also extended the presidential term from five to seven years as effectively cementing a dynastic rule. Aliyev succeeded his father in 2003.