Uzbekistani presidential election, 2007

Uzbekistani presidential election, 2007

A presidential election was held in Uzbekistan on 23 December 2007. [ "Uzbek Incumbent Wins Presidential Poll Without 'Genuine Choice'"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 24 December 2007.]

Incumbent Islom Karimov's term was considered to have ended on 22 January 2007, based on the Constitution of Uzbekistan, but the electoral legislation states that "an election must be held in December of the year in which the president's term expires"; this "de facto" extension of Karimov's term to eight years has been heavily criticised by the opposition. [ [ "Legal ambiguity allows Uzbek president to stay on for extra year"] , Associated Press ("International Herald Tribune"), January 26, 2007.]

Although Karimov was widely considered to be constitutionally ineligible for another term, analysts expected him to remain in power. Of the six candidates announced by September 2007, only Dilorom Toshmuhamedova of the Justice Social Democratic Party had officially filed with the Electoral Commission; there were rumours that the other five (Suhbat Abdullayev, Akbar Aliyev, Abdullo Tojiboy O‘g‘li, Axtam Shoymardonov and Jahongir Shosalimov) have been pressured into running to make Uzbekistan appear more democratic than it really is. [Gulnoza Saidazimova, [ "Uzbekistan: Field Of Presidential Hopefuls Wider, Not Deeper"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 29, 2007.] By early October, two other candidates had filed: Xurshid Do‘stmuhammad (or Do‘stmuhamedov) of the Uzbekistan National Revival Democratic Party and Axtam Tursunov of Self-Sacrifice National Democratic Party. The Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party said in early October that it intended to nominate Karimov. [Gulnoza Saidazimova, [ "Uzbek Party Signals Plan To Nominate Karimov For Third Term"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, October 4, 2007.] On 6 November, Karimov was unanimously chosen as the Liberal Democratic Party's presidential candidate at a party convention in Tashkent, and Karimov accepted the nomination.Omar Sharifov, [ "Islam Karimov agreed to remain the president another seven years"] ,, November 7, 2007.]

A legal explanation to justify Karimov's candidacy, in light of the constitutional limit of two terms for presidents, was not officially given. It was suggested that, because Karimov had only served one seven-year term (he was first elected to a five-year term, which was later extended by referendum), he is eligible to run for a second seven-year term; by this reasoning his first term would not count toward the total.

On 19 November, the Chairman of the Central Election Commission, Mirza-Ulug‘bek Abdusalomov, announced that the candidacies of Karimov, Toshmuhamedova (the first woman to run in an Uzbek presidential election), Asliddin Rustamov of the Uzbekistan People's Democratic Party, and Akmal Saidov (who was nominated by a citizens' group) were approved. [ "Uzbek Election Watchdog Clears Karimov For Third Term"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 19, 2007.] Shukhrat Babajanov, [ "Uzbekistan: Official Acquiescence In Karimov Presidential Bid Draws Fire"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, November 21, 2007.] Two candidates, including Abdullo Tojiboy O‘g‘li, were rejected by the Commission on the grounds that they had not collected enough signatures, with signatures from 5% of eligible voters being required. The Commission did not explain its reasoning in approving Karimov's candidacy. Opposition groups reacted with anger and bitterness toward the Commission's decision, which they considered illegal. Aside from Karimov, the other three candidates approved by the Commission are considered friendly towards the government, and their participation was criticized as window-dressing for an election in which there was no genuine opposition.

By midday on 23 December, 59.8% of eligible voters had participated according to the Central Election Commission, exceeding the 33.3% minimum participation rate to make the election valid. [ [ "Karimov Seeking To Extend Term In Criticized Election"] , Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, December 23, 2007.] Preliminary official results released by the Central Election Commission on December 24 showed Karimov winning with 88.1% of the vote, on a turnout rate that was placed at 90.6%. Rustamov was placed second with 3.17%, followed by Toshmuhamedova with 2.94% and Saidov with 2.85%. [ [ Page on election results at] .]

While the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had a team of 21 observers in the country, it officially considered the elections "pointless due to the obvious limited nature of the competition". [ "Uzbek voters 'offered no choice'"] , BBC News, December 24, 2007.] The OSCE observers criticized the election as lacking a "genuine choice", and OSCE spokesperson Urður Gunnarsdóttir said that the "election was held in a very controlled political environment, which did not really leave much room for real opposition and this election failed to meet many of the commitments that OSCE states have made to hold democratic elections." She also said that the seemingly positive presence of four candidates in the election had been undermined by the other candidates' endorsement of Karimov. The OSCE also questioned the official turnout figure of 90.6%.

Observers from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization gave the election a positive assessment.

Karimov was sworn in for his new term on January 16 2008, saying on the occasion that he would "mobilize all my power, knowledge and experience to fully implement all our priority goals set out in the election program". [ [ "Uzbek President Karimov sworn in for new seven-year term"] , Xinhua, January 17, 2008.]


External links

* [ Pictures of the candidates and presentation in Uzbek language]
* [ "Uzbekistan's president guaranteed re-election"] , Al Jazeera (video report), 23 December 2007.

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