Central Asia

Islam Karimov re-elected Uzbekistan’s president in predicted landslide

Bukhari on the authority of Abu Musa the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Verily, Allah Most High gives rope to the oppressor so that when He seizes him, he does not get away.”The he صلى الله عليه وسلم recited:

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَخْذُ رَبِّكَ إِذَا أَخَذَ الْقُرَىٰ وَهِيَ ظَالِمَةٌ ۚ إِنَّ أَخْذَهُ أَلِيمٌ شَدِيدٌ

“Such is the iron grip of your Lord when He seizes the cities which do wrong. His grip is painful, violent.”

(Hud, 11:102)


Election criticised by western observers for irregularities and lack of competition as Karimov wins more than 90% of preliminary vote

Alec Luhn

Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s authoritarian president since 1990, has won re-election in a predictable landslide victory that will put him in office for another five years.

According to preliminary results announced on Monday by the central Asian state’s electoral commission, Karimov, 77, won 90.39% of the votes in Sunday’s election, which was roundly criticised by western observers for irregularities and lack of competition.

This will be his third term under the current constitution, even though that same treaty limits presidents to two terms, an Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe observer mission noted in a report.

The only question going into the election was how badly Karimov would trounce his three toothless competitors from the country’s other parliamentary parties, who have themselves praised the president as the best candidate. The electoral commission put the turnout at an impressive 91.08%.

Monitoring missions from the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, which include former Soviet republics and China, called the election open and democratic. Although Vladimir Churov, the Russian electoral commission head also lauded the vote, he told the state news agency RIA Novosti that “there’s no such thing as totally clean elections” and said his team would discuss “certain remarks on the organisation of the voting” with local authorities.

Autocratic leaders across the former Soviet Union have been known to dispatch “quid pro quo” observer missions to each others’ elections to lend them legitimacy. But the OSCE observer report on the election catalogued many “legal and organisational shortcomings,” noting that slavish media coverage gave Karimov a “clear advantage” and that “proxy voting on behalf of several voters appeared to be universally practised”. Independent candidates have been barred from running by recent reforms.

Human rights groups also lambasted the election as unconstitutional and unfair, while also noting the Karimov regime’s track record of abuses and repression of criticism. Before the vote, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights listed ongoing rights violations including child slave labour in the country’s large cotton industry, forced sterilisation of women, and arbitrary detention and torture.

A Human Rights Watch report in September said Karimov’s government had locked up thousands of critics, including activists, journalists, artists and clerics. Of 34 prisoners profiled, 29 made credible allegations of torture and ill treatment, including beatings, electric shocks, and hanging from wrists and ankles.

Analysts have said the ageing Karimov is trying to postpone a power transition that has recently been complicated by an ugly family feud. Last autumn, the president’s oldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova, an occasional pop star and businesswoman whose dealings are the subject of two corruption investigations in Europe, accused her sister of sorcery and claimed her mother was trying to “destroy” her. Before her Twitter account was mysteriously shut down, Karimova also accused the powerful head of Uzbekistan’s security service, Rustam Inoyatov, of attempting a power grab.

Despite the repressive political situation, Uzbekistan’s economy continues to grow on the back of gas, cotton and gold exports, reportedly expanding by 8.1% in 2014.