Lahore (Web Desk): Azerbaijan 's President Ilham Aliyev has appointed his wife as first vice president , the latest move seen as tightening the family's grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation.

The appointment of Mehriban Aliyeva follows constitutional changes made after a tightly managed referendum last year which introduced the powerful position of first vice president , the second most senior official in the country .

Aliyeva, 52, has been an MP for the ruling Yeni Azerbaijan party since 2005 and head of the influential Heydar Aliyev Foundation - named after her father-in-law and former president .

Born into the powerful Pashayev family, Aliyeva has sometimes been seen as a possible successor to her husband, who took over in 2003 after the death of his father Heydar, a former KGB officer and Communist-era boss.