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Uzbekistan: President Mirziyoyev announces snap election

May 8, 2023

Mirziyoyev announced he was giving up the remainder of his term and seeking a fresh mandate. This follows a referendum that approved constitutional reforms and allowed the president two fresh seven-year terms.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends the medal ceremony for the men's under 90 kg category during the 2022 World Judo Championships at the Humo Arena in Tashkent on October 10, 2022.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will seek the first of his recently-approved seven-year terms almost immediately, his government said on MondayImage: Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

Uzbekistan's President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has called a snap election on Monday, just a week after a referendum that allowed him to run for two more seven-year-terms.

The president said he was giving up the remainder of his term in office on statements shared on his Telegram account.

The referendum granted more constitutional rights for Uzbeks, but also controversially granted Mirziyoyev, who won a second term in office in 2021, a reset on his time already spent as president and the chance to serve two extended seven-year terms. 

The president said he felt he needed a fresh mandate under the new constitution to carry out further reforms.

His decision on Monday does slightly curtail the thereotical maximum period he could remain president, as presidential elections might not have taken place until 2026 under normal circumstances.

What did the president say?

Mirziyoyev stopped short of announcing a date for the vote in speech on Monday. Uzbek law requires at least two months' notice. 

The president praised the Uzbek people as "the real authors of the updated constitution," which was approved with some 90% of the vote on 1 May. 

He made a raft of promises for the future ahead. These included further expanding the range of social services for the poor, elderly and those with disabilities. He also pledged to ensure "harmony" between different ethnic groups within the Uzbek population.

The 65-year-old nevertheless said he needed a fresh mandate to carry out those reforms.

Uzbekistan activists seek more democracy (2021)

"In the current situation where sharp and complex processes are prevailing in the world and in our region, finding the right and effective path of development and its implementation is becoming the most acute and urgent issue," he said.

Mirziyoyev is credited domestically and internationally for Uzbekistan's economic liberalization. 

He was also prime minister from 2003 to 2016 under previous President Islam Karimov, before taking over the top job from the former strongman. 

No major opposition challenger is considered likely to emerge to threaten Mirziyoyev's position. In 2021's presidential election, he won 80.1% of the vote with his nearest challenger on just 6.65%

rmt/msh (Reuters)