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Uzbeks head to polls as president seeks to reset term count

Uzbekistan votes on constitutional amendments on Sunday that promise its citizens greater social protections in exchange for resetting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s term count to zero, which could allow him to stay in power until 2040.

Uzbekistan proposes new constitution extending presidential terms

Uzbekistan’s parliament passed a law on Friday calling a constitutional referendum on April 30 that, if passed, would allow President Shavkat…

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Mirziyoyev, 65, has been praised at home and abroad as a liberal reformer for abandoning the previous leadership’s isolationist policies and police-state approach.

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

Although the current and the proposed new version of the constitution limit successive presidential terms to two, officials have said that if the revised constitution is adopted, Mirziyoyev’s term count would be reset to zero.

#Uzbekistan is holding a historic referendum on its new constitution, a major political milestone since the country's independence more than 30 years ago. The amended draft constitution contains significant changes in citizens' rights, judicial fairness and other areas. Local…

— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) April 30, 2023
The reform also extends the presidential term to seven years from five, which could in theory allow Mirziyoyev to remain in charge of the country of 35 million people until 2040.

At the same time, the package of amendments proclaims Uzbekistan a “social state” with increased welfare obligations and allows non-farming land ownership.

It also abolishes the death penalty and establishes greater personal legal protection, for instance to a person’s rights when they are detained by police, and the concept of habeas corpus, or protection against unlawful and indefinite imprisonment.

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