December 5, 2016 / 11:16 AM / a year ago

OSCE criticises Uzbek election, says shows need for reforms

ALMATY (Reuters) - The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticised on Monday Uzbekistan’s presidential election as falling well short of democratic norms, saying it underlined the need for “comprehensive reforms” in the ex-Soviet republic.

Uzbekistan’s prime minister and interim president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, is expected to have won Sunday’s election by a landslide, though there were no exit polls or preliminary results. The final results are expected later on Monday.

The OSCE, Europe’s human rights watchdog, said in a preliminary statement that authorities in the Central Asian nation had failed to provide the conditions for a genuinely free and transparent election process.

“... the dominant position of state actors and limits on fundamental freedoms undermine political pluralism and led to a campaign devoid of genuine competition,” the OSCE election observation mission said.

“(The election) underscored the need for comprehensive reforms to address long-standing procedural and systematic shortcomings, including to a legal framework that is not conducive to holding genuine democratic elections.”

About 88 percent of Uzbekistan’s 20 million eligible voters cast their ballots, according to Central Election Commission which plans to announce the results of the vote later on Monday.

Mirziyoyev, 59, would become only the second president of Uzbekistan since it won independence from Moscow in 1991. Veteran leader Islam Karimov, who ran the resources-rich nation of 32 million with an iron hand, died in September aged 78.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Gareth Jones

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