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Uzbeks extend leader’s powers in referendum

An intensely advertised referendum on a package of constitutional amendments has been passed in Uzbekistan, according to preliminary data. This was in line with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s plan who, as a result, will be able to run for two more seven-year terms when his current one ends in 2026.

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The reform, passed with 90.21 percent 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 that the West is seeking support from ex-Soviet nations to isolate Russia over its war in Ukraine.

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