Abulfaz Elchibei formed a government consisting of leading members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front. But the Elchibei government did not survive long. The serious defeats that the Azerbaijani forces suffered in the Karabakh war during the winter of 1992-93 and the spring of 1993 jeopardized its position.

Surat Husseinov rebellion

In April 1993, Elchibei removed several military commanders whom he considered responsible for the reverses. One of the removed commanders,Surat Husseinov, launched a rebellion against the government from his stronghold in the city of Ganja. In June 1993, Husseinov called for the resignation of Elchibei and of parliamentary speaker Issa Gambarov, and set off for Baku at the head of his troops. Gambarov resigned.

Aliyev sees Elchibei off into retirement
Heydar Aliyev (Embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington)

Heydar Aliyev (Embassy of Azerbaijan in Washington)

Heydar Aliyev, the former Communist Party boss in Azerbaijan, had been biding his time in his native Nakhichevan and awaiting a suitable moment to return to the capital. The parliament offered Aliyev the position of speaker, and he took it up shortly before Husseinov’s men reached Baku. Aliyev then escorted Elchibei into retirement.

Aliyev consolidates control

Aliyev next set about the task of legitimizing his position and consolidating his control. In August 1993, a referendum endorsed the removal of Elchibei from the presidency. Presidential elections followed in October1993. Aliyev won by a large majority. Husseinov was rewarded for propelling Aliyev back into power with the positions of prime minister and defense minister. Subsequently, Aliyev cultivated the establishment of a pro-presidential ruling party, the New Azerbaijan Party.