Uzbekistan’s president could stay in office till 2040

Tashkent, Uzbekistan –

Voters in Uzebekistan, the most populous former Soviet Central Asian republic, cast their ballots on Sunday in a referendum on a constitutional amendment that promises human rights reforms.

Approval looks secure. Supporters have run a series of publicity events featuring local celebrities, and Uzbekistan’s elections are widely viewed as uncompetitive.

With four hours to go before the polls closed, the Central Election Commission reported a voter turnout of over 62%.

Proposed changes include extending the presidential term from five to seven years while maintaining the existing two-term limit. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is in his second term, but his term change will allow him to run for two more times after his current term ends in 2026.

Other changes include abolishing the death penalty and increasing legal protections for citizens, including those accused of crimes.

Under Mirziyoyev’s predecessor, Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the region. Mirziyoyev, who succeeded Karimov after his death in 2016, has touted the constitutional amendment as a sign that Uzbekistan will put freedom and human rights first.

A referendum was originally scheduled for last year but was postponed following deadly unrest in the Karakalpakstan region, with changes announced to include withdrawal of Karakalpakstan’s vote on whether to secede. .

Although the odds of secession are very low, the proposal would leave Uzbekistan’s impoverished and environmentally stricken republic with one-third of its territory but only about 5% of the country’s 36 million population. angered the inhabitants of A large-scale riot breaks out in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpak. At least 18 people were killed in clashes with police.

A new package to be voted on Sunday retains Karakalpakstan’s secession rights.

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