Voters in Azerbaijan approve extending presidential term

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Preliminary referendum results show a sweeping majority of voters in Azerbaijan support extending the presidential term in the ex-Soviet nation.

Azerbaijan's Central Election Commission chief Mazahir Panahov says that with virtually all ballots counted from Monday's referendum, 84.2 percent of the votes were backing a constitutional amendment extending the presidential term from five to seven years.

Other proposed amendments, which included granting the president the right to dissolve parliament, creating new vice presidential jobs and cancelling age limits, also won overwhelming support from voters.

Some opponents say the changes would cement what they see as effectively a dynastic rule in the oil-rich Caspian Sea nation that has come under frequent criticism from abroad for alleged human rights abuses and suppression of dissent.