On January 22, 2007, the second term of rule of President Islam Karimov will end. By holding two general elections and two referendums, by introducing appropriate changes to the constitution, Karimov has already retained his power since 1989. The last referendum was held in January 2002, on the basis of which changes were introduced into the constitution - the introduction of a bicameral parliament and the extension of the term of office of the president from five to seven years. Then, state media said that the extension of powers does not concern the current president. The president himself, voting in a referendum, told the press that "this is not about one particular person, but about the future of the republic."
However, in April 2002, the deputies of the Oliy Majlis (Parliament) of Uzbekistan voted to extend the powers of the current president of the country for another two years and decided to hold the next presidential election on December 23, 2007. The head of the press department of the Oliy Majlis, Miraksal Miralimov, in an interview with the Reuters news agency said: “The parliamentarians formalized the results of the referendum, in which 91% supported the idea of extending the constitutional powers of the president to seven years from the current five.” According to the constitution, the next presidential election will be held on the first Sunday of the third decade of December 2007. ” But at the same time, according to the same constitution, the seven-year term of office of the current president is terminated in January 2007, namely on January 22, when the president took the oath and officially assumed the office. The deputies, having appointed the date of the presidential election for the month of December, did not notice that the seven-year term of the current president’s rule was actually extended by another 11 months. Thus, individual articles of the constitution contradict each other.
So, next year, President Karimov should leave his post, due to the fact that his second term of presidency will be over. However, the local media seemed to have forgotten about this important event. There are still no discussions or comments indicating that the coming year is an election year.
Who is who?
In Uzbekistan, there are 5 political parties represented in parliament. All of them publicly declare their loyalty to the current president. According to a high-ranking member of the people's democratic (former communist) party who wished to remain anonymous, “the presidential administration is in charge of everything, the charter program for each party and their work plans go down from there. The parties simply sit and wait for an order to keep silent or to start a company acceptable to the authorities. ”
In the presidential election of 2000, this party of Uzbekistan presented its candidate - Professor of Philosophy Abdulhafiz Jalalov, who stated that he had cast his vote for President Karimov. Meanwhile, the opposition party Erk has nominated its leader, Muhammad Salih, as a presidential candidate. Muhammad Salih, who participated in the 1991 elections and won 12% of the vote, said he was ready to return to Uzbekistan and take part in the presidential election. The statement was published on the website of the political party Erk.
After the Andijan events, the West turned its attention to this opposition politician. This year he was invited to the United States and Europe, where he spoke in the US Congress and the Parliament of Great Britain and held numerous meetings in analytical centers and institutes. However, Salih was accused of involvement in the bombings in Tashkent in 1999 and was sentenced in absentia by the court to 15.5 years in prison. In addition, he has been living abroad for the past 13 years, and according to the constitution, “a citizen of the country who has been permanently residing in Uzbekistan for at least ten years just before the elections” can be elected president of Uzbekistan.
Will Karimov leave his post?
A former member of the opposition movement “Birlik”, a member of the local human rights organization, believes that Karimov will remain in power forever. “It is possible that there will be no elections at all, because for the last sixteen years, Karimov extended his rule without much difficulty through various machinations,” said the human rights activist. Another member of the opposition Erk party, Agzam Turgunov, also believes that Karimov will most likely remain the eternal president. "I think that the deputies are initiating letters from citizens asking them to leave the president in power."
What do ordinary people think about elections?
An entrepreneur from Samarkand says that he doesn’t remember when the last election was and doesn’t imagine when the next one should be. "I got so used to the idea that Karimov is our president, that I think he will remain them forever."
A teacher from one of Tashkent universities Khurshid Usmanova says that the majority of students are not interested in the social and political life of the country. In order to think about the re-election of the head of state, you need to have independent views. “What kind of independence can we talk about if young people hear only propaganda and are not able to freely discuss existing problems.”
However, a study by the Ijtimoii Fikr State Center for the Study of Public Opinion, conducted in August of this year, refutes this position. “Since independence, the citizens of Uzbekistan have felt their involvement in the changes and personal responsibility for solving the problems of the state. Such feelings are characteristic of the majority of respondents (83.3%), ”says the publication of the Center.
Many observers believe that the authoritarian president has already lost his popularity among the people and in order to remain in power he wants to show that he is “good”, but his circle is “bad”. “Therefore, performances with dismissals have recently been arranged, former officials have been appointed by him, and criminal prosecutions are being initiated against former associates of the president.”
For example, in October, Karimov dismissed the khokims of Andijan and Fergana regions for the same reason. In his speech at an extraordinary session of the Council of People's Deputies of the Andijan Region, broadcast on television, he accused local leaders "in the command-administrative style of leadership, inattention to the needs of people, fraud and idle lifestyle."
After the Andijan events, and the subsequent criticism of the West, the government of Uzbekistan completely changed its foreign policy course, reorienting towards Russia and China. The leaders of these countries made it clear to Karimov that the fight against terrorism is more important than democracy and human rights. According to human rights activists, the influence of democratic countries in Uzbekistan has been reduced to zero, and perhaps Karimov will ignore the usual criticism of the West this time and declare himself a president for life.