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Uzbek interim leader wins presidency with 88.6% of vote

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Uzbek acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev casts his ballot for the presidential election in Tashkent on December 4, 2016. Mirziyoyev, who spent 13 years as Karimov's prime minister, is expected to easily win a five-year term. Uzbekistan went to the polls on December 4 to elect a successor to the late strongman Islam Karimov with long-serving prime minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev expected to score a comfortable victory in the ex-Soviet state. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Anvar Ilyasov

Uzbek acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev casts his ballot for the presidential election in Tashkent on December 4, 2016. Mirziyoyev, who spent 13 years as Karimov’s prime minister, is expected to easily win a five-year term. Uzbekistan went to the polls on December 4 to elect a successor to the late strongman Islam Karimov with long-serving prime minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev expected to score a comfortable victory in the ex-Soviet state. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Anvar Ilyasov

Uzbekistan’s interim leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev has won a crushing victory to become the country’s second-ever president following the death of long-reigning strongman Islam Karimov, official results showed Monday.

The Central Election Commission said Mirziyoyev scooped 88.6 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election, according to a preliminary count in this Central Asian country of 32 million which has no tradition of competitive elections.

Mirziyoyev’s margin of victory to secure a five-year term echoes those won by predecessor Karimov, who died of a stroke in September after 27 years at the helm of the commodity-rich country.

An OSCE-led monitoring mission said there were “indications of ballot box stuffing and widespread proxy voting” during the vote.

“The dominant position of state actors and limits on fundamental freedoms undermined political pluralism and led to a campaign devoid of genuine competition,” mission head Peter Tejler said at a press conference broadcast online from the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “warmly congratulated” Mirziyoyev on his victory in a phone call and invited him to visit, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Mirziyoyev, who was appointed prime minister in 2003, represents the same party as his former boss and even squared off against two of the pro-regime candidates Karimov had faced in the last presidential election in 2015.

“The format for Uzbek elections has not changed since Karimov’s death, because the regime has not had time to think of anything different,” said Kamoliddin Rabbimov, an Uzbek political analyst who lives in France.

Karimov’s reign began in 1989 at the tail-end of the Soviet era and was often criticised for extreme abuses of human rights.


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