Uzbekistan's leader reelected with 87% of the vote

World Monday 10/July/2023 15:16 PM
By: DW
Uzbekistan's leader reelected with 87% of the vote

Tashkent: Preliminary election results on Monday show Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev winning a third term in power with 87.1% of the vote.

The result should see the 65-year-old leader consolidate power until at least 2030 after changes to the constitution that extend his term of office.

What does the result mean?
Mirziyoyev, a trained engineer, has positioned himself as a reformer creating a "New Uzbekistan."

He has said he wants to double gross domestic product to $160 billion (€146 billion) and centered his reelection campaign on the economy and education.

Mirziyoyev says he plans to open up tourism and investment in the former Soviet Republic, which with a population of 35 million is Central Asia's most populous country.

He called the snap election immediately after the constitutional changes that also allow the president to serve two more terms in office, meaning he could retain power until 2037.

NGOs say the human rights situation has improved in the country under Mirziyoyev compared with his predecessor, longtime dictator Islam Karimov.

While Mirziyoyev served as prime minister under Karimov, he has rolled back some of the previous regime's more oppressive policies.

His reforms include ending the practice of forced labor in the country's cotton fields and releasing political prisoners who were jailed during Karimov's 25 years in power.

However, observers also say there is room for improvement, with Uzbekistan remaining strongly authoritarian and lacking significant opposition.

Mirziyoyev ran against three largely unknown candidates and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) described the election campaign as "low-key, mirroring lack of opposition to the incumbent."

Moscow, Beijing offer congratulations
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Mirziyoyev in a message published on the Kremlin website.

"This convincing electoral victory confirms your high political authority and points to the broad, popular support for your policy of large-scale reforms," Putin said.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping also offered congratulations as well as praise for Mirziyoyev's leadership.

"I am willing to work with you to promote the continuous development of the China-Uzbekistan comprehensive strategic partnership and inject new impetus into the construction of a China-Uzbekistan community with a shared future," Xi said.

Beijing has intensified its efforts to invest in infrastructure projects in Central Asia, seeking to fill a power vacuum left behind by Moscow in the region's former Soviet states.