Influential former Minister of Health Ali Insanov has stated he has established a new political party, once again defying the ruling system in Azerbaijan after being released on a pardon decree issued by President Ilham Aliyev early this year.
For the first time in Azerbaijan's post-Soviet history, a politician who once represented the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) and functioned as a minister has created a party challenging the acting government.
The former minister announced last week on Facebook that the new party will be called the Justice Party.
On 24 November, Insanov along with his associates, most of them also known as the former members of the current government, held a meeting in Baku where the newly-launched party “decided that the organizing committee of the party should consist of 15 people."
Insanov has been unanimously chosen as the chair of the party, and his assistant Rashad Abbasli was chosen to serve as the secretary. The meeting also determined that a party charter and activity plan will be saved in written form so that it can be applied later more widely.
The establishment of the party comes days after the leaders of several opposition parties in Azerbaijan and representatives of civil society held a meeting in Baku on 5 November where they agreed to jointly oppose the authoritarian regime in Azerbaijan.
Insanov labeled the situation in the country as “depressing in all areas of life.”
Insanov was one of the founders of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party (YAP) in 1992. He was a close former associate of Heydar Aliyev, the father and predecessor of Azerbaijan's current President Ilham Aliyev, and was seen as a possible rival to the family rule in the country.
The former minister served in the ruling government until 2005 when he was arrested on suspicion of planning a coup attempt against Ilham Aliyev, who had succeeded his father two years earlier. Insanov was sentenced two years later on embezzlement and bribery charges. He rejected the claims and human rights groups later considered him a political prisoner.
Insanov was released as part of a mass presidential pardon on 16 March 2019.