Sahiba Gafarova was appointed as the new speaker of the parliament of Azerbaijan, Milli Mejlis, at the first plenary meeting of the parliament of the sixth convocation on March 10. A woman became the chairperson of the parliament for the first time in Azerbaijan’s history, according to Interfax Azerbaijan.
This comes after the snap February election that drew criticism from the opposition and led to protests in Baku resulting in beatings on the part of law enforcers and dozens of arrests. Oppositionists previously called for a boycott of the election due to the limitations of their rights to campaign. Expectedly, the ruling party got over 57% of the vote.
Gafarova's candidacy was proposed by the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan (New Azerbaijan) party. 116 out of 125 MPs voted supported the motion.
Despite the name, the party was founded by Heydar Aliyev in 1992 and after his death was inherited by his son, Ilham Aliyev, who has been its chairman since 2005, at the same time ruling the country as a president since 2003.
Ali Huseynli was elected First Vice-Speaker of the Parliament, and Adil Aliyev and Fazail Ibrahimli Vice-Speakers.
Born in 1955, Gafarova graduated from the Azerbaijani Pedagogical Institute of Russian Language and Literature named after M. F. Akhundov and Azerbaijan University of Languages (in English philology) with honors.
She was an MP in the Parliament of the fifth convocation and a member of the Azerbaijani delegation to the PACE. In the early elections on February 9, 2020, she was elected MP representing the city of Shamkir.
In these elections, Azerbaijan’s ruling party got the majority of seats in the new parliament. The elections were announced after the parliament was dissolved due to the proposal by the Yeni Azerbaijan party chaired by President Ilham Aliyev, which was considered as one of the phases of the transition of power from Aliyev to his wife Mehriban Aliyeva, now First Vice President.