Vote fails to fill Uzbek parliament, early results show


Legislative elections in Uzbekistan failed to fill one-third of the seats contested in the Central Asian state, officials said, even though all legal parties support President Islam Karimov.

Speaking at a news conference late on Monday to announce preliminary official results of the weekend poll, the head of the central election commission said there was no outright winner in 40 of the 135 districts where seats were contested.

Election commission chief Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov said runoff elections would be held at a later date in each of the 40 districts where no candidate won the absolute majority needed for election.

Karimov, who has ruled the strategic, ex-Soviet state since the late 1980s, told reporters Sunday after casting his ballot that Uzbekistan “was taking first steps towards building a democratic society.”

He said he wanted to see stronger parliamentary oversight of the executive branch of government he leads. “We have no way other than building a democratic and liberal society,” said Karimov, who will be 72 years old next month. “Only parliament – no one else – can do it through laws… and (by) being a guide for liberal reforms,” he said.

More than 270 observers from 36 countries and missions of four international organizations monitored Sunday’s polls, according to the central election commission.

But the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, sent a smaller election assessment team instead of a full observer mission, citing democratic shortcomings.

Sunday’s vote was marked by turnout of nearly 89 percent, or 17 million voters. There are 150 seats in Uzbekistan’s national legislature, the Oliy Majlis.

Under changes implemented last year however, 15 of those seats are reserved for the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, the officially approved environmental party.

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