Uzbekistan Approves Constitutional Reforms Extending President's Rule

Image copyright: Uzbekistan's Presidential Press Office [via AP]

The Facts

  • The Uzbek Election Commission on Monday announced that voters approved constitutional amendments that will extend presidential terms from five to seven years and allow Pres. Shavkat Mirziyoyev — who has been in office since 2016 — to remain in power until 2040.

  • The proposed reform also includes a ban on the death penalty and the protection of human rights, including the criminalization of domestic violence, but it doesn't allow for the emergence of political opposition in the country.

The Spin

Narrative A

The constitutional amendments are essential for creating a solid legal foundation for the government's efforts to build a "New Uzbekistan," which has been gradually established over the past years. Under the leadership of Mirziyoyev, the country is following an irreversible path of liberalization that has promoted freedom of speech, religion, movement, and prosperity.

Narrative B

Emboldened by Russia's isolation on the global stage, Central Asia's leaders are consolidating their power as the Kremlin has expressed its commitment to preventing the so-called "color revolutions" in the region — and Uzbekistan is no exception. The constitutional overhaul has extended Mirziyoyev's political power by allowing his rule to continue well beyond his original term limit.

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