President: Islam Karimov
Islam Karimov has dominated the leadership since 1989, when he rose to be Communist Party leader in then Soviet Uzbekistan. The following year he became president and continued in the post after independence.
A referendum held in 1995 extended his term until 2000, when he won presidential elections unopposed. A further referendum in 2002 extended the presidential term from five to seven years, but the expiry of his term in January 2007 went largely unnoticed. He gained another term following elections in December 2007 that opponents dismissed as a sham.
Mr Karimov takes a ruthlessly authoritarian approach to all forms of opposition, using the danger of Islamic militancy to justify the absence of civil rights.
In recent years the question of the succession to President Karimov has been aired abroad, with his elder daughter Gulnara often highlighted as his potential heir. An apparent power struggle in late 2013, coupled with several money-laundering investigations abroad, led to Ms Karimova disappearing from public view.