Azerbaijani strongman leader Ilham Aliyev has replaced his long-standing defence minister in a surprise move announced during the unveiling of new a cabinet following his crushing presidential election win.
Aliyev ditched Safar Abiyev, who has held the post since the mid-1990s, late Tuesday in favour of interior troop commander Zakir Gasanov.
The move followed a spate of protests earlier this year over non-combat deaths in the army that were ruthlessly put down by authorities.
Aliyev romped to a third term with an overwhelming win at an October 9 poll that was criticised by international observers as seriously flawed.
Two other scandal-tainted ministers responsible for labour and agriculture were also replaced.
Azerbaijan is locked in a decades-long feud with arch-foe Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorny Karabakh.