Saturday, December 4, 2021

President of Uzbekistan moves towards confident victory in elections

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) – In the presidential elections on Sunday, Uzbeks voted for the incumbent to win a landslide victory amid weak competition.

Although Shavkat Mirziyoyev softened many of the policies of his dictatorial predecessor, he put little effort into political reform.

Mirziyoyev, who took office in 2016 after the death of Islam Karimov, faces four relatively subtle candidates who did not even appear in televised debates, instead sending proxies who did not participate in substantive discussions. Independent candidates were not admitted.

“Other candidates talk about abstract things, such as strengthening social protection, but do not provide any details. They have no real program, and they are not obliged, because they know who will win, ”said political analyst Ahmed Rakhmonov.

The only opponent of Mirziyoyev who received significant attention during the campaign was Alisher Kodirov with his proposal that Uzbeks working outside the country pay taxes in Uzbekistan, which is a very unpopular idea for a large part of the population, which depends on remittances from members families abroad.

Mirziyoyev openly disagreed with the proposal, and some observers suggested that Kodirov, whose party is in coalition with Mirziyoyev’s party in parliament, did so in order to pass votes to the incumbent.

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Under Mirziyoyev, freedom of speech has expanded from the suppression of the Karimov era, and some independent media and bloggers have emerged. He also loosened the tight control over Islam in the predominantly Muslim country that Karimov imposed to counter dissident views.

He also removed control of the hard currency by encouraging investment from abroad and began to mend international relations that had soured under Karimov.

“Mirziyoyev has improved relations with global players such as Russia, China and the West, as well as resolved conflicts with neighbors, including establishing peaceful interaction with Afghanistan,” said Andrei Kazantsev of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.

Uzbekistan and Afghanistan share a 144-kilometer (89-mile) border, and Uzbekistan is constantly worried that the conflict could spill over. The foreign minister of the former Soviet republic became the first foreign official to visit Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in August.

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Uliana Pavlova and Jim Heinz from Moscow participated in the creation of this story.

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