The constitutional referendum in Uzbekistan proposing to strengthen the power of President Chavkat Mirzioev, who claims to want to open a new era of development in this former Soviet republic of Central Asia, was approved by more than 90%, announced Monday, May 1 electoral commission.
Among its main measures are the passage from the five-year term to the seven-year term and the reset of the two presidential terms, which in theory will allow the current head of state, aged 65, to remain in power until 2040. According to the preliminary results, the change of Constitution was approved by 90.21%, with 84.54% of participation, a result without surprise, Uzbekistan is still considered by many NGOs as an authoritarian state despite recent reforms.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Monday lamented "the lack of genuine pluralism and competition" in the referendum. The OSCE also found that there had been no "organized opposition to the amendments" and stressed that there was still "some way to go before fundamental rights (...) are respected", despite recent reforms in Central Asia's most populous country.
Opposition crushed in blood
The authorities maintained during the campaign that the modification of two thirds of the Constitution would make it possible to democratize the country and improve the standard of living of the 35 million inhabitants, whose rights have long been flouted by a repressive regime. But President Mirzioev will be the main beneficiary. The leader has been trying to present a more modern face since 2016 and the death of his predecessor, the cruel Islam Karimov, of whom he was the faithful prime minister for thirteen years.
Among the novelties, the prohibition of the death penalty and the respect of human rights are constitutionalized in this "New Uzbekistan" more just that Mr. Mirzioev boasts. The adoption of the text was beyond doubt after a one-sided campaign, in a state where the press is still largely controlled. And the only attempt to oppose it had been crushed in blood.
In July 2022 in Karakalpakstan (North-West), demonstrations against a constitutional amendment, since withdrawn, which would have reduced the autonomy of this immense poor territory in the north of the country, left twenty-one dead, according to a report by the authorities. .