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Uzbeks approve changes that could extend president until 2040


Uzbekistan’s Central Election Commission says Uzbeks gave their overwhelming approval in a referendum to constitutional changes that promised human rights reforms but would also allow the country’s president to stay in office until in 2040.

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Uzbeks have overwhelmingly approved in a referendum constitutional changes that promise human rights reforms but would also allow the country’s president to stay in office until 2040, the central election commission said on Monday. from the country.

More than 90% of those who voted on Sunday voted for the measure, which was heavily promoted by the government, according to the commission. Nearly 85% of eligible voters took part, he said.

The changes include extending the presidential term from five to seven years, while retaining the current two-term limit. Although President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is in his second term, the term change would allow him to run twice more after his current term ends in 2026.

Other changes include abolishing capital punishment and strengthening legal protection for citizens, including those accused of crimes.

Under Mirziyoyev’s predecessor, Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan was one of the most repressive countries in the region. Mirziyoyev, who took over after Karimov’s death in 2016, touts the constitutional changes as showing that Uzbekistan will prioritize freedoms and human rights.

The referendum was originally scheduled for last year but was postponed following deadly unrest in the Karakalpakstan region when it was announced that the changes would include rescinding Karakalpakstan’s right to vote on whether to secede.

Although the likelihood of secession is very low, the proposal has angered residents of the impoverished, environmentally beleaguered republic that makes up one-third of Uzbekistan’s territory but comprises only around 5% of 36 million people in the country. Mass unrest erupted in Karakalpak’s capital, Nukus; at least 18 people died in clashes with police.

The new package retains Karakalpakstan’s right of secession.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.