Azerbaijan's Musavat Party will not participate in a snap presidential election scheduled for April, party head Arif Hacili has said.
Musavat is one of two major opposition forces in Azerbaijan. The other, the National Council of Democratic Forces, said on February 6 it would also boycott the election.
The announcements came after President Ilham Aliyev on February 5 issued a decree bringing forward the date of the election to April 11 from the original date of October 17.
Aliyev's decree did not explain the reasons for the decision but said the move was made in accordance with Azerbaijan's constitution and the country's Electoral Code.
Presidential adviser Ali Hasanov said the vote was being brought forward to ensure that it didn't interfere with "important domestic and international events" later in the year.
Hacili denounced the change as "an operation to prolong Aliyev's rule for another seven years."
Speaking to RFE/RL on February 6, Hacili said he believed Aliyev's main goal is to prevent the opposition from properly preparing for the poll.
He also said he suspected internal disputes within the ruling elite played a part in the decision.
Citing what he said were "ongoing disagreements inside the government," he said that that "they want to have the elections as soon as possible."
Another explanation for the change was that the state of Azerbaijan's economy has worried Aliyev.
Based on reporting by Reuters and RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service