Media reports say preliminary results of Azerbaijan’s presidential elections Wednesday showed a landslide victory for incumbent President Ilham Aliyev, whose re-election was widely expected following his government’s swift reclaiming of a region formerly controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.

The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that the head of Azerbaijan’s Central Election Commission, Mazahir Panahov, said at a briefing late on Wednesday evening, several hours after the polls closed that with nearly 55 percent of the ballots counted, Aliyev, 62, was winning the race with 92.1 percent of the votes.

Panahov reportedly noted that other candidates on the ballot so far have won less than 3 percent each.

Ilham Aliyev faced six nominal rivals, none of them critical of his rule.  Three of them have already conceded and congratulated Aliyev on his winning re-election, the Interfax Azerbaijan news agency reported.

Reuters reported on February 7 that according to preliminary results released by the central election commission after just over half of the votes had been counted, Aliyev was way ahead with 92.1% of votes cast.

An earlier exit poll conducted among 63,000 people by Oracle Advisory Group reportedly suggested he would take 93.9% of the vote.

The two main opposition parties reportedly boycotted the poll in Azerbaijan.  

Ilham Aliyev, 62, who succeeded his father Heydar Aliyev as president in 2003, has typically taken over 85% of the vote in elections that rights groups said were neither free nor fair.

Azerbaijani officials, however, say the elections are fair and transparent, and that Aliyev's popularity has increased since victory in Karabakh.

In January, Ilham Aliyev said he had called the snap poll to mark “the start of a new era” in Azerbaijan, which he said had restored its sovereignty by retaking Karabakh.