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President of Uzbekistan sets to win presidential election in landslide victory

9 July 2023 20:22 (UTC+04:00)
President of Uzbekistan sets to win presidential election in landslide victory

Uzbekistan is holding a snap presidential election Sunday, a vote that follows a constitutional referendum that extended the incumbent's term from five to seven years, Azernews reports.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev was elected in 2021 to a second five-year term, the limit allowed by the constitution. But the amendments approved in April's plebiscite allowed him to begin the count of terms anew and run for two more, raising the possibility that he could stay in office until 2037.

The 65-year-old Mirziyoyev is set to win the vote by landslide against three token rivals.

"The political landscape has remained unchanged, and none of the parliamentary political parties stand in open opposition to the president's policies and agenda," the elections observer arm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a pre-voting report.

Since coming to power in 2016 after the death of leader Islam Karimov, Mirziyoyev has introduced a slew of political and economic reforms that eased some of the draconian policies of his predecessor, who made Uzbekistan into one of the region's most repressive countries.

In April's referendum, more than 90 per cent of those who cast ballots voted to approve the amendments extending the presidential term.

As part of his reforms, Mirziyoyev has abolished state regulation of cotton production and sales, ending decades of forced labour in the country's cotton industries, a major source of export revenues. Under Karimov, more than 2 million Uzbeks were forced to work in the annual cotton harvest.

Mirziyoyev has also lifted controls on hard currency, encouraging investment from abroad, and he moved to improve relations with the West that soured under Karimov. He has maintained close ties with Russia and signed a number of key agreements with China, which became Uzbekistan's largest trading partner as part of its Belt and Road Initiative.

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