Mutalibov initially supported the August 1991 coup attempted against the Gorbachev regime, drawing vehement objections from APF leaders and other political opponents. Once the coup failed, Mutalibov moved quickly to repair local damage and to insulate his rule from Moscow's retribution by announcing his resignation as first secretary of the ACP. These moves by Mutalibov and his supporters were in line with the pro-independence demands of the APF, even though the two groups remained political adversaries. In September 1991, Mutalibov was elected president without electoral opposition but under charges from the APF that the election process was corrupt.
Azerbaijan began the process of achieving formal independence October 18, when the Supreme Soviet passed a law on state independence, ratifying that body's August declaration of independence. Then in December, over 99 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of independence in a referendum on that issue. The constitution was duly amended to reflect the country's new status. Immediately after the law was passed, the Supreme Soviet appealed to the world's nations and the United Nations (UN) for recognition of Azerbaijan. In December Mutalibov signed accords on Azerbaijan's membership in the Commonwealth of Independent States, a move criticized by many Azerbaijani nationalists who opposed all links to Russia and Armenia. A year later, the Azerbaijani legislature repudiated the signature, rejecting membership in the CIS. Azerbaijan maintained observer status at CIS meetings, however, and it resumed full membership in late 1993.
|Country Studies main page | Azerbaijan Country Studies main page|