Books on Uzbekistan
Update No: 325 - (28/01/08)
Karimov again - Did you hold your breath?
It was no surprise that President Karimov won re-election to the presidency on
December 23. With a huge 88.1 percent of the vote, Islam Karimov of the Liberal
Democratic Party of Uzbekistan (LDP) was re-elected president for a seven-year
A vote of over 90% invites ridicule. Somebody in charge clearly suggested that
88% sounds more decorous. Well in a way it does; and in a way it doesn't.
Karimov is of course as a brutal dictator reviled and hated by something like
the same 88% of the population. In this Orwellian world everything has to be
turned upside down.
Three other presidential candidates ran against Karimov: Dilorom Tashmukhamedova
of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) “Adolat”, Asliddin Rustamov of the
People's Democratic Party (PDP) and independent candidate Akmal Saidov, leader
of the Human Rights Committee in the Parliament.
The nomination of Karimov for president of Uzbekistan was officially declared
after the unanimous approval of LDP delegates in the Plenary Committee of the
LDP – also the biggest parliamentary party among the five parties registered
in the country, with 41 representatives out of a total 120. That his own party
should be unanimous in nominating him is credible. The following figures are
Out of 16,297,400 registered voters, 14,765,441 voted in the presidential
elections. Karimov received officially 13,008,357 votes. Of the remaining 12
percent of the votes available, Tashmukhamedova received 2.94 percent, Rustamov
3.17 percent and the independent candidate Saidov 2.85 percent.
Special relationship with Turkey re-affirmed
Ankara is officially gratified at the result. There is at least stability in the
core state of Central Asia, a volatile region after all. There is someone with
whom one can do business.
Uzbekistan has a distinctive place for Turkey among sister Turkic Republics and,
according to press reports on statements made by Karimov on the day of the
elections, the sentiment is reciprocated. Turkish roots are embedded there, in
people's social lives (similar to Anatolian cultures) and language.
When Karimov cast his vote for the presidency, Turkish television crews were
allowed access together with a limited number of foreign stations, which
demonstrates that Karimov's feelings about Turkey remain constant – despite
Turkey's recent vote against Uzbekistan in the UN.
The West ignores Karimov's re-election
The US and the EU countries have ignored the results, partly because he was not
entitled to stand for a further term under his own constitution, (a
‘technicality’ widely ignored by his own political colleagues, he doesn’t
really have ‘opponents’ and the media obviously weren’t going to close
themselves down by pointing this out).
Congratulations came in from Minsk and Astana, from Moscow and from Dushanabe,
but not from Washington or London, Paris or Berlin.
Had Berlusconi still been in power a congratulatory message from Rome might have
been forthcoming; but he isn't. Karimov will just have to settle down with his
own fellow dictators and Turkey.