Uzbekistan Holds Elections, Only Pro-Gov’t Parties Participate


Uzbeks voted Sunday in parliamentary elections in which the only participating parties are supporters of the country’s longtime president, Islam Karimov.

Election officials said some 88 percent of Uzbeks voted. Officials say results will be announced Monday.

Candidates from the four pro-government parties vied for 135 seats in Uzbekistan’s lower house of parliament. Another 15 seats are reserved for an environmental group (the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan).

Uzbekistan has no officially-registered opposition parties. International rights groups say Mr. Karimov’s government has detained thousands of political prisoners, making it one of the world’s most repressive. He has ruled the country since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The European Union lifted its remaining sanctions on Uzbekistan in October, citing an improvement in human rights. The 27-member bloc had imposed the sanctions in response to the Uzbek government’s use of force to quash opposition protests in 2005.

Rights groups said hundreds of protesters were killed in the crackdown in the city of Andijan. Uzbekistan put the death toll at 187 and said most of the casualties were terrorists or security forces.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not send a full election monitoring team to Uzbekistan for Sunday’s elections, saying Tashkent had ignored previous recommendations to ensure a free vote.

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