Uzbek Leader Wins Referendum on Extending Powers

Reuters file photo
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev speaks during a news conference following talks with Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, January 27, 2023.

TASHKENT, May 1 (Reuters) – Uzbekistan has passed a package of constitutional amendments in a referendum, preliminary data showed on Monday, which will allow President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to run for two more seven-year terms when his current one ends in 2026.

The reform, passed with 90.21% of Sunday’s vote, resets Mirziyoyev’s term count, while promising the Central Asian nation’s citizens greater social and legal protections.

Mirziyoyev, 65, has opened up the former Soviet republic’s economy, greatly improved ties with the West, and curbed the powers of security services whose dominance had in previous decades turned the country of 35 million into a police state.

Although Tashkent’s Western partners are unlikely to approve of the extension of presidential powers, Uzbekistan risks little given the West is seeking support from ex-Soviet nations in its efforts to isolate Russia over its war in Ukraine.