Asia

Uzbekistan set to re-elect president Islam Karimov

Uzbekistan's long term President Islam Karimov has been in power for over 25 years Image copyright AFP
Image caption President Islam Karimov has been in power for over 25 years

Uzbekistan has voted in a presidential election all but certain to be won by long-term incumbent Islam Karimov, who has led the country for over 25 years.

He faces three other candidates for the position but all come from parties supporting his presidency.

Opposition activists are in jail or live abroad; independent challengers were not allowed to run.

Turnout was 91%, the election commission said, with results due to be announced on Monday.

Mr Karimov, 77, has led Uzbekistan since 1989, when the country was still part of the Soviet Union.

The Uzbek constitution limits the presidency to two consecutive terms but he is running again after amending it.

"I voted for our president, Islam Karimov. I am really satisfied with what he is doing for young people," one 18-year-old voter told the AFP agency in the capital, Tashkent.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Voter turnout has been high, according to the electoral commission
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Karimov has led Uzbekistan since 1989

"I really wanted our respected President Karimov to retire, give the rule to someone younger and enjoy his happy retirement... But this is not going to happen, so I don't care now and I don't know who to vote for," said another, a taxi driver who requested anonymity.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has sent observers. It said the last presidential vote failed to offer "a real choice" to Uzbek voters.

Despite few expecting anything other than a landslide win for Mr Karimov, there are some signs of instability.

He has faced speculation about his health, after failing to appear in public for a period earlier this year.

There are also rumours of a rift with his daughter, Gulnara Karimova, once seen as a potential successor but now reportedly under house arrest.

Russia's economic woes could have a knock-on effect, with more than two million Uzbeks living and working there.

Mr Karimov has justified his strongman tactics as essential to counter radical Islam in central Asia.

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