In Uzbekistan, the president re-elected without surprise

The ballot was decided in advance. The President of Uzbekistan, Chavkat Mirziyoyev, was re-elected with more than 80% of the votes, the Election Commission announced on Monday (October 25), the day after an election marked by the absence of real opposition. Mr. Mirziyoyev, 64, who has led the country since 2016, will therefore serve a second five-year term.

As a sign of the total lack of suspense, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called his Uzbek counterpart to congratulate him on his “Convincing victory”, without even waiting for the publication of the results, according to a statement from the Kremlin.

The election took place on Sunday “Without real competition” and was tainted with“Significant irregularities”, nevertheless deplored Monday observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Parliament. They noted “Signs of ballot stuffing in several polling stations” and noted that“A large number of voters” had been able to vote “Without presenting an identity document”, according to a statement.

But the Uzbek Election Commission dismissed the charges, saying the poll was organized “In accordance with international standards”.

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Four puppet competitors

Prime Minister for thirteen years, Mr. Mirziyoyev came to power after the death of the very authoritarian Islam Karimov, first president of this former Soviet republic which became independent from Moscow in 1991. Mr. Mirzioïev is hailed for having abolished forced labor, opened the economy and freed from opponents tortured by his ruthless predecessor. But he has returned more recently to habits of the past, repressing several critical personalities.

“Mirziyoyev wants today to show the West that he is a reformer and that he will hold this role until 2025. He promises Moscow political stability and to maintain a secular system. For Washington, it delays the country’s integration into [l’union douanière dominée par Moscou]. In Beijing, he promises a corridor through Afghanistan “, details at World Bakhtiyor Alimdjanov, independent political scientist based in Tashkent.

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In their statement, international observers called the reforms undertaken by the current president “Encouraging sign”, but denounced “Incarceration, intimidation and pressure” against journalists during the campaign. The last months of Mr. Mirziyoyev’s first term were marked by the growing muzzling of critical voices, for example with the arrest of bloggers. An academic considered to be one of his few real opponents, Khidirnazar Allakulov, has also been banned from running for president.

His detractors accuse him of ruling out any opposition in the election. On Sunday, Mr Mirziyoyev faced four candidates who were considered puppets and refrained from criticizing him during the campaign.

Announced as democratic progress, a televised debate was to oppose the five candidates on October 19, five days before the vote. An unprecedented event since the 1990s. But the president did not come to defend his record. And his four rivals sent in their stead even duller representatives, who simply took turns reading their party platforms live.

The World with AFP

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In Uzbekistan, the president re-elected without surprise