In Uzbekistan, a constitutional referendum is held on Sunday, the subject of which is the amended text, announcing reforms extending the rights of citizens, but also strengthening the power of the president. If the draft changes are approved, which is considered almost certain, Shavkat Mirziyoyev will be able to remain in his post until 2040.
Constitutional referendum in Uzbekistanthe Central Asian country with the largest population in the region, was preceded by numerous events promoting the proposed changes and an aggressive campaign in the mass media.
In the former republic of the now defunct Soviet Union, elections usually proceeded in accordance with the recommendations and expectations of the authorities.
What does the draft amendment to the constitution assume?
The proposed changes include, among others: extending the presidential term from 5 to 7 years, while maintaining the current rule of limiting the term of office to two terms.
However, although President Mirziyoyev is in office for a second term, the change in the length of his term will allow him to run for the presidency twice again under new conditions, after the end of his current term in 2026.
Other proposed changes include e.g. abolishing the death penalty and strengthening the legal protection of citizens, including those accused of crimes.
Under Mirziyoyev’s predecessor, Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan, with more than 36 million people, was one of the most oppressive countries in the region. Mirziyoyev, who took office after Karimov’s death in 2016, is promoting changes towards democratization.
The referendum was originally scheduled to take place last year but was postponed as a result of bloody riots in Karakaipakstan that broke out after it emerged that they would end the region’s right to vote on a possible secession.
Reuters: Uzbekistan risks little
As noted by Reuters, although Tashkent’s Western partners are unlikely to approve of an attempt to expand presidential powers, Uzbekistan risks little, given that the West seeks the support of all former Soviet countries in its isolationist efforts Russia in connection with her war in Ukraine.
The agency said the referendum would be considered valid if more than half of the 19.7 million eligible voters took part in it. Preliminary results are expected on Monday.
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