The vote monitoring arm of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Uzbekistan’s parliamentary elections lacked real competition. In a statement on December 22, the head of the limited observation mission sent by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said freedom of expression and association are crucial to conducting free and fair elections. The December 21 elections “were competently administered but lacked genuine electoral competition and debate,” Daan Everts said. “More comprehensive steps are needed to provide voters with real electoral choices,” Everts said. Four parties, all of which support President Islam Karimov, competed for 135 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament. The remaining 15 seats will automatically go to the pro-government Ecological Movement.
The government of Karimov, who has been in power since the Soviet era, is widely criticized for its human rights record and lack of tolerance for dissent.
Uzbekistan’s embattled and largely exiled opposition called for a boycott of the vote.
According to the election commission, there were about 300 international observers, mostly from other organizations, monitoring the vote.The election commission says turnout by the time the polls closed was about 88 percent of more than 20 million registered voters.
Full Article: OSCE Criticizes Uzbek Vote.