In a bright and spacious room Uzbek President Islam Karimov is talking to his voters. Like every other meeting broadcast on state TV, it all looks very orderly. Men in suits and ties, women in smart dresses occupy the entire hall leaving no empty seats. They all have a pen and a notebook but nobody is taking any notes. When the speech is over, everyone jumps from their seats and applauds. President Karimov has been in power since 1989 when he was selected as the Communist Party leader of Soviet Uzbekistan. Today this Central Asian state is seen as one of the most repressive countries in the world, international organisations describe its human rights record as “abysmal” and Uzbek citizens often call their leader “podishoh”, the king.
Few doubt that Mr Karimov will be re-elected for yet another term in the vote on 29 March. His other three opponents are virtually unknown politicians who pose no real challenge.
“They are running just to create a sense of democracy,” said Abdurakhmon Tashanov, a Tashkent-based activist from Ezgulik human rights organisation. “But no real opposition is present. This is all like a play and everyone is playing their roles.”
Mr Karimov’s opponents show little sign of criticism. When they campaign, they repeatedly talk about “continuing the development of the country”, “further democratisation” and “keeping the [current] high pace of economic growth”.
Full Article: Why Islam Karimov will win Uzbekistan’s elections – BBC News.