Acting Uzbek leader to run in December presidential vote

Acting Uzbek leader to run in December presidential vote
Acting Uzbek leader to run in December presidential vote

Uzbekistan’s acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will run in December presidential elections he is widely tipped to win, the ex-Soviet country’s election commission said Friday.

Mirziyoyev was boosted from prime minister to acting leader of the Central Asian nation last week after long-reigning strongman Islam Karimov died aged 78, following 27 years of ruthless domination with no clear successor lined up.

The country’s central election commission wrote on its Facebook page that leaders of the Uzbekistan Liberal Democratic Party — which the late Karimov had represented — had decided to present Mirziyoyev as a candidate for the December 4vote.

Mirziyoyev — a long-time ally of Karimov’s who is viewed as a tough-guy enforcer — is widely expected to cement his grip on power at the upcoming elections.

The 58-year-old appointed a new deputy prime minister and also replaced the higher education minister, the government reported Wednesday, in a reshuffle indicating his growing authority.

First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov, once viewed as a potential successor to Karimov, retained his position in the minor reshuffle and expanded his brief to include education and science.

Uzbekistan has never held elections deemed free and fair by international monitors and no legally registered political party opposes the regime.

The late Karimov won a five-year presidential term by a landslide in March 2015 in a contest that saw opposition candidates lavish praise on his policies.