Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov cruised to a new five-year term Monday after facing a minimal challenge, prompting withering criticism from Western observers. The election commission in the tightly controlled Central Asian state said Karimov, 77, won more than 90 percent of the vote in Sunday’s presidential election to extend his 25 years in power, with voter turnout reaching 91 percent. None of the three challengers — all fielded by parties that are openly supportive of Karimov’s rule — troubled the incumbent, scoring in the single digits.
His closest challenger, Akmal Saidov, who is well-known for defending the former Soviet republic’s often criticised human rights record, won less than four percent of the vote.
Karimov has led the most populous of Central Asia’s five former Soviet republics since 1989, two years before collapse of the Soviet Union.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) questioned the independence of the electoral commission, noting that Karimov’s candidacy breached constitutional term limits.