- Title: Uzbekistan PM Mirziyoyev poised to win presidential election
- Date: 2nd December 2016
- Summary: TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (NOVEMBER 28, 2016) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** MEETING OF UZBEKISTAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION HEAD OF UZBEKISTAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION, MIRZA-ULUGBEK ABDUSALOMOV, SAYING: "This year OSCE/ODHIR has deployed a full-fledged mission." MEETING PARTICIPANT (SOUNDBITE) (Uzbek) HEAD OF UZBEKISTAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION, MIRZA-ULUGBEK ABDUSALOMOV, SAYING: "These means Uzbekistan is fulfilling its international obligations, because we have promised to hold elections open, free and fair, in line with international democratic principles and standards. The (OSCE's) full scale mission raises the status of our election." TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN (NOVEMBER 29, 2016) (REUTERS) MAN PLACING TRADITIONAL UZBEK BREAD ON TRAY IN BAKERY BAKER PUTTING BREAD INSIDE OVEN (SOUNDBITE) (Uzbek) BAKER FROM TASHKENT, SHERZOD MAHKAMOV, SAYING: "I am a baker here. I decided to vote for Shavkat Mirziyoyev." VARIOUS VIEWS OF MOSQUE PARK (SOUNDBITE) (Uzbek) STUDENT FROM TASHKENT, KUMUSH HAMIDOVA, SAYING: "I am going to vote for Shavkat Mirziyoyev on December 4, because I think he can ensure Uzbekistan's economic development." PEOPLE ON STREET
- Embargoed: 17th December 2016 13:12
- Keywords: Uzbekistan election president Shavkat Mirzioyeyv
- Location: TASHKENT AND UNKNOWN LOCATION, UZBEKISTAN
- City: TASHKENT AND UNKNOWN LOCATION, UZBEKISTAN
- Country: Uzbekistan
- Reuters ID: LVA0045B6Y53B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS, NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Uzbekistan's interim president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, looks set to become the Central Asian nation's second full-time leader since independence in an election on Sunday (December 4), facing timid opponents who have avoided any criticism of the government.
Mirziyoyev, 59, served as prime minister from 2003 under President Islam Karimov, who died of a stroke in September having run Central Asia's most populous nation, a former Soviet republic, with an iron fist for 27 years.
Indicating his status as the likely successor, Mirziyoyev was first named to head a commission arranging the funeral - a nod to Soviet-era political tradition - and then appointed interim president when the senate speaker, given that role by constitution, gave it up in Mirziyoyev's favour.
However, diplomatic and business sources have told Reuters that Mirziyoyev is not expected to have his predecessor's absolute powers, sharing them instead with Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov and security chief Rustam Inoyatov.
This triumvirate structure has allowed Uzbekistan's elite to avoid conflict over succession, but also creates a future risk of destabilising infighting as some analysts think Mirziyoyev may eventually try to establish himself as the sole leader.
Residents of the capital Tashkent asked by Reuters which of the candidates they support unanimously said they would vote for Mirziyoyev.
"I am a baker here. I decided to vote for Shavkat Mirziyoyev," said Sherzod Mahkamov, a baker at one of Tashkent markets.
"I am going to vote for Shavkat Mirziyoyev on December 4, because I think he can ensure Uzbekistan's economic development," said a student, Kumush Hamidova.
The predominantly Muslim nation's security and stability is seen abroad as important since it is a major exporter of cotton and natural gas. Uzbekistan fought an Islamist insurgency in the 1990s, and thousands of Uzbeks are believed to have joined Islamic State militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
Running against Mirziyoyev in Sunday's election are Khatamjon Ketmonov, Narimon Umarov and Sarvar Otamuratov, the nominees of three parties present in parliament which bill themselves as opposition but have always toed the official line.
For the first time large observation mission from the OSCE-ODIHR will monitor Uzbekistan election, said Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov, the Had of Uzbekistan Central Election Commission.
"These means Uzbekistan is fulfilling its international obligations, because we have promised to hold elections open, free and fair, in line with international democratic principles and standards. The (OSCE's) full scale mission raises the status of our election," he added.
In an interim report last week the observers mission said "There is no debate among candidates planned and their programmes do not appear to offer voters a significant range of alternative viewpoints."
"Campaign discourse is dominated by a demand for continuity and stability during the unprecedented transition of power," the observers wrote.
Despite pledging continuity, Mirziyoyev has announced plans for economic reforms, including a liberalisation of the tightly controlled foreign exchange market, and has acted to ease strains in relations with neighbouring Central Asian countries.
On the foreign policy side, his first meeting as acting head of state was with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and diplomats say ties with former Soviet master Moscow are likely to become closer under the new leadership.
In a meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu this week, his Uzbek counterpart Kabul Berdiyev praised Russia's military success in Syria and said Uzbekistan, which borders Afghanistan, would increase military cooperation with Moscow.
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