Uzbekistan: Reform or Repeat?

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details No.84, 2016 (06.12.16)
Publication Date 06/12/2016
Content Type

After 25 years of authoritarian rule, Uzbekistan faces unpredictable neighbours, a jihadi threat and deep socio-economic challenges. New President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has taken small steps toward vital domestic and foreign policy reform, and outside partners should push him to do more to avert real dangers ahead.

Uzbekistan’s 4 December 2016 presidential election formally confirmed Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the office he assumed in an acting capacity on 8 September 2016, within days of the death of Islam Karimov. After 25 years of Karimov’s authoritarian rule, however, one of Central Asia’s most repressive states faces challenges that can only be effectively addressed by genuine domestic and foreign policy departures.

Mirziyoyev has received positive notices for a few small moves in the past three months, but there is no sign as yet that he intends to alter fundamentally the system he helped shape as prime minister since 2003, a system designed to protect those in power at the expense of the population’s rights. His steps to repair relations regionally have been met with mistrust by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, while the tough issues, such as sharing of resources, have yet to be broached. There has been even less indication of new directions internally where the new president shares power with at least two other prominent members of the Karimov era.

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Related Link(s)
ICG: Publications: Reports and Briefings
ESO: Background information: Post-Karimov Uzbekistan: Business as usual
Wikipedia: Uzbekistani presidential election, 2016,_2016
BBC News, 04.12.16: Uzbekistan election: Who will win - and what does it mean?
Uzbekistan: Central Election Commissioner
EU: EEAS: Statement, 05.12.16: On the Presidential Elections in Uzbekistan
OSCE: ODIHR: Uzbekistan: Presidential Election, 4 December 2016
The Economist, 06.12.16: Cloning Karimov. Uzbekistan replaces one strongman with another

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