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World > Middle East > Uzbekistan > Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Uzbekistan - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Constitutionally, the Government of Uzbekistan provides for separation of powers, freedom of speech, and representative government. In reality, the executive holds almost all power. The judiciary lacks independence, and the legislature--which meets only a few days each year--has little power to shape laws. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, President Karimov's first term was extended. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed, and Karimov's term was extended to December 2007 by the parliament. Most international observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. The 2002 referendum also included a plan to create a bicameral parliament.

Elections for the new bicameral parliament took place on December 26, 2004, but no truly independent opposition candidates or parties were able to take part. Independent political parties were allowed to organize, recruit members, and hold conventions and press conferences, but were denied registration under restrictive registration procedures. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) limited observation mission concluded that the elections fell significantly short of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.

Terrorist bombings were carried out March 28-April 1, 2004 in Tashkent and Bukhara. It is not clear who committed the attacks, but Karimov assigned blame to Islamic extremists. In May 2005, violence erupted in the eastern city of Andijon following armed attacks against a prison, the local government headquarters, and other government facilities. These incidents, combined with mass demonstrations against the jailing of local men on charges of 'Islamic extremism' escalated into violence when Uzbek troops responded to the protestors with gunfire. The civilian death toll from the violence has been estimated to be in the hundreds, though Uzbek authorities officially confirmed only 187 casualties. President Karimov identified the protestors as Islamic militants and fundamentalists who provoked the government's violent response. Karimov's opponents believed the conflict was a product of the President's ongoing policy to suppress all forms of dissent in Uzbekistan.

Human Rights
Uzbekistan is not a democracy and does not have a free press. Several political parties have been formed with government approval but have yet to show interest in advocating alternatives to government policy. No independent political parties have been registered, although in 2002-2003 they were able for the first time in several years to conduct grass-roots activities and to convene organizing congresses. Although multiple media outlets (radio, TV, newspaper) have been established, these either remain under government control or rarely broach political topics.

Several prominent opponents of the government have fled, and others have been arrested. The government severely represses those it suspects of Islamic extremism, particularly those it suspects of membership in the banned Party of Islamic Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir). Some 5,300 to 5,800 suspected extremists are incarcerated. This number fluctuates, as hundreds are amnestied periodically. Prison conditions remain very poor, particularly for those convicted of extremist activities, and a number of such prisoners are believed to have died over the past several years from prison disease and abuse. The police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique. Following the visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Government of Uzbekistan in May 2003 drafted an action plan to implement the Special Rapporteur's recommendations. The government began to enact a number of its provisions, but its violent actions in May 2005 in Andijon have been widely condemned by other nations and human rights groups. It continues to reject calls by the international community to allow an international, independent inquiry of the turbulent events.

Principal Government Officials
President and Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers--Islam Karimov
Prime Minister--Shavkat Mirziyaev

Deputy Prime Ministers
Economics and Trade/Consumer Market Complex--Rustam Azimov
Communications/Informatization--Abdulla Aripov
Energy--Ergash Shaismatov
Social Issues--Rustam Kosimov
Transportation and Construction--Nodir Hanov
Women's Issues--Svetlana Imanova

Key Ministers
Defense--Ruslan Mirzayev
Foreign Affairs--Vladimir Norov
Internal Affairs--Bahodir Matlubov
Justice--Foriljon Otakhonov
Public Education--Torobjon Jorayev
Emergency Situations--Kobil Berdiev
Finance--Rustam Azimov
Culture--Rustam Kurbonov
Health--Feruz Nazirov
Foreign Economic Relations--Elyor Ganiev
Labor and Social Protection--Aktam Haitov (Acting)

Other Key Officials
Chairman, National Bank-Foreign Economics--Saidakhmad Rakhimov
Chairman, State Bank--Fayzulla Mullajanov
Chairman, State Committee on Statistics--Gofurjon Kudratov
Chairman, State Property--Dilshod Musaev
Chairman, State Committee for Customs--Sodirkhon Nosirov
Chairman, State Committee for Taxation--Botir Parpiev
Chairman, State Committee for Geology and Mineral--Nurmahammad Akhmedov
Chairman, National Security Service--Rustam Inoyatov
Chairman, Committee on Protection of State Border--Ilkhom Ibragimov
Secretary, National Security Council--Murod Ataev
Ambassador to the United States--Abdulaziz Kamilov
Ambassador to the United Nations--Alisher Vohidov

The Republic of Uzbekistan maintains an embassy at 1746 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel.: (202) 887-5300; fax (202) 293-6804. Its consulate and mission to the UN in New York are located at 866 United Nations Plaza, Suite 326/327a, New York, NY 10017. Consulate tel.: (212) 754-7403; fax: (212) 486-7998.

Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.

Facts at a Glance
Current Time
Ranking Positions

Notes and Commentary
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.

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