Friday, 9 June, 2023

Uzbek leader calls early election after referendum

TASHKENT: Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Monday called an early presidential election for July, his office said, after a referendum allowing him to remain in power for two more terms, reports AFP.

In late April, the Central Asian country approved constitutional changes allowing Mirziyoyev, 65, to extend his hold on power in a tightly controlled referendum slammed by international observers as flawed.

Mirziyoyev set the early election for July 9, according to a decree released by the presidential administration.

He welcomed the results of the recent referendum on Monday, saying that the vote had demonstrated how much the political consciousness, legal culture and worldview of our people have grown.

Election observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the vote lacked the participation of meaningful opposition and was not truly representative.

Since coming to power in 2016 in the wake of the death of hardline predecessor Islam Karimov, Mirziyoyev has spearheaded a series of reforms in Uzbekistan, including a clampdown on forced labour in the cotton fields.

But activists say rights abuses persist, and authorities have shown no sign of allowing a political opposition to emerge.

In 2022, at least 21 people died during demonstrations in the autonomous region Karakalpakstan. Rights activists accused the authorities of having used lethal force against the protesters.