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.
Polls have opened in Uzbekistan for a presidential election that appears certain to bring incumbent President Islam Karimov to a fourth term in office. Voting began at 6 a.m. (local time) on March 29 across the former Soviet republic in Central Asia, where Karimov has eliminated almost all opposition during more than two decades in power. Karimov is being castigated by critics who descirbe the election as a sham in which his hand-picked rivals are effectively campaigning for him. Karimov faces three other candidates — Khotamjon Ketmonov of the People’s Democratic Party, Nariman Umarov of the Social Democratic Party Adolat (Justice), and Akmal Saidov of the Milli Tiklanish (National Revival) Party. All three are from pro-government parties and have spent their campaigns praising Karimov’s policies.