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Uzbek people choose President Karimov for another term for continued developmentFirst-hand report by The Korea Post Special Feature Editor James Koh

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (The Korea Post Reporter James Koh)?Incumbent President Islam Karimov of the Republic of Uzbekistan won the Presidential elections on March 29 as the candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) nominated and supported by the Movement of Entrepreneurs and Business people of the Party. President Karimov won 17,122,957 votes (90.39% of the registered voters). This was announced by the Central Election Commission at a briefing of the election results.

▲President Islam Karimov of the Republic of Uzbekistan who won another term of office for the next five years at the Presidential elections on March 29, 2015 to lead the country.

President-elect Karimov was followed by Presidential Candidate Akmal Saidov of the Milliy Tiklanish (National Revival) Party with 582,688 votes (3.08%), Presidential Candidate Hotamion Ketmonov of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan with 552,309 votes (2.92%) and Presidential Candidate Adolat (Justice) Party with 389,024 votes (2.05%).
Judging from the people on the street in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, the landslide victory of President Karimov was already a foregone conclusion to a report.

▲President Karimov of Uzbekistan (left) is congratulated on by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan on the occasion of the former’s victory at the Presidential elections in Uzbekistan.

One middle-aged man, a businessman who ran a printing house in Tashkent, was approached on the street and sked who was going to win. He did not say who by name but said, “We don’t want a break in our economic development which has been successfully achieved and it is all the more so when we are facing a big economic challenge coming from the continuously falling value of the Russian ruble which is having an unwholesome impact on our economy and other countries of the CIS" (Commonwealth of Independent States.)
Most of the people who were met on the street had a very high opinion of President Karimov for his outstanding ability and capacity as a statesman, especially his leadership and charisma which they believed were essential for the continued development of the economy and maintain of socio-political stability.

▲President Karimov of Uzbekistan (right) and President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan who congratulated the former on his re-election.

Many people in Tashkent were worried that the voter turnout would not be very high because of the weather. The temperatures had been around 18 degrees centigrade but the mercury plummeted to something like minus 5 degrees accompanied by a strong cold wind. The low temperatures, however, did not dampen the spirit of the voters as it recorded more than 91%.
The zeal for voting was especially strong among the young people. Some students gathered on the playground of the voting station and performed a group dance after their voting. It appeared that they regarded the Presidential elections as a time of festivity to celebrate.

▲President Karimov of Uzbekistan (left) shakes hands with President of Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan after the latter’s expression of congratulation on the former’s re-election.

Another distinction of the Uzbek elections was the temporary medical clinic facility in the voting place just in case an emergency case should occur such as childbirth and children getting hurt. It is obvious that his kind of consideration for the benefit of voters substantially contributed to boosting the voter turnout and reducing possible absenteeism.
The Presidential elections in Uzbekistan took place in a peaceful atmosphere in a democratic process without any reported accidents or voting fraud.

▲Presidential Candidate Akmal Saidov of the Milliy Tiklanish (National Revival) Party, who placed second in the Presidential election race confirmed that equal conditions were assured to all candidates.

A total of over 300 international election observers were invited to observe the entire process of election from various regions of the world, including Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the American continent. They came from five international organizations (the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Shanghai Cooperation Organization, World Association of Electoral Bodies and Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and a total of 43 states. In addition, more than 35,000 observers from political parties, representatives of the media participated in the voting process.

▲Presidential Candidate Narimon Umarov of the Social Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, who placed third in the Presidential race, congratulated President-elect Islam Karimov on the latter’s victory in the elections.

President Karimov will now continue to lead the Republic of Uzbekistan for the new term of five years in response of the concerted desire and demand for continued economic development and prosperity as well as reforms for the improvement of the living standard of the people.
All Presidential candidates, according to election management officials and other competent authorities of Uzbekistan, received equal legal and practical conditions in processes related to preparing and holding the Presidential elections.

▲CIS Mission Head Sergey Lebedev (concurrently chairman of the CIS Executive Committee) said that the Presidential elections were free and open and met commonly accepted democratic norms.

President Akmal Saidov of Milliy Tiklanish Party said that the pre-election agitation was fully carried out based on such criteria as equality, fairness, openness and transparency. He underlined that over 8,738 observers from Milliy Tiklanish Party observed election process across Uzbekistan.
Saikov expressed his gratitude to the activists and trustees, members of the party, and voters, who supported and assisted him during election campaign and at the voting. He then congratulated Islam Karimov on his election to the post of the President of Uzbekistan.

▲Chairperson Hotamjon Ketmonov of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan stated that his party accepted the results of the Presidential elections.

Congratulatory expressions came from the leaders of many countries as well as from the Presidential election competitors and election observation organizations, including Presidents Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. Excerpts follow:

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan:President Aliyev congratulated President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan on April 1, 2015 on the successful election of President Karimov. President Aliyev was quoted as saying, “I cordially congratulate you on the occasion of your reelection as President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

▲Each polling station in Tashkent had a temporary medical facility just in case there be an emergency such as unexpected child birth or accident by children.

Your victory in the elections vividly testifies to the fact that the fraternal people of Uzbekistan support the coherent, consistent policy carried out by you for a long time.” Then he said that “today Uzbekistan is confidently moving forward along the path of strengthening independence and democracy, dynamic social and economic progress and Uzbekistan occupies a worthy place in the global community, its prestige in the international arena is growing.”

▲Young people considered the election day as a festive occasion and showed strong interest in voting.

President of Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan:

President Rahmon sent a congratulatory telegram to President-elect Karimov on March 31 on the victory in the Presidential elections in Uzbekistan. President Rakhmon said in part: “Please accept my sincere congratulations on your re-election to the high office of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.” Then he said:“We received this news with satisfaction. Your re-election is an evidence of the high trust of the course, conducted under your wise guidance and direction to the comprehensive development of Uzbekistan, strengthening its potential and improving the well-being of its people.”

▲Posters of all four candidates on posted on the wall.

Rahmon expressed hopes that the Tajik-Uzbek friendship and neighborhood relations, which is important factor in ensuring security and stability in the region and the fundamental interests of our countries and peoples, will be enriched with new examples of fruitful cooperation. The Tajik side, he said, is determined to work with you to make all necessary efforts for this noble cause.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan:

President Nazarbayev congratulated President-elect Karimov of Uzbekistan on March 30, 2015 on his victory in the Presidential elections. In a congratulatory telegram, Nazarbayev noted the election results demonstrated that Islam Karimov enjoyed a widespread public support for his well thought out policy aimed at Uzbekistan’s socio-economic development and strengthening of the country’s position in the international arena. The Kazakh President expressed his confidence that under the leadership of Islam Karimov Uzbekistan will continue to follow the path of prosperity. “I believe the fraternal relations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan will further strengthen at the level of strategic partnership,” the telegram stated.
In conclusion, President Nazarbayev wished President Karimov good health and success in his responsible post, as well as peace and prosperity to the people of Uzbekistan.

▲Co-eds presented dance performances after casting their ballots.

Presidential Candidate Umarov of SDPU:

Presidential Candidate Narimon Umarov of the Social Democratic Party of Uzbekistan congratulated President Islam Karimov on his victory. At a briefing in Tashkent on March 31, 2015, Umarov congratulated President-elect Karimov on his election and stated that the presidential elections were organized in high level in line with the legislation of Uzbekistan and national norms and that the election process was transparent and open. He said that over 9,000 observers of his party observed elections and they did not record any violations. He expressed gratitude to the Central Election Commission for good organization of the elections.
Umarov said that he collected 2.05% of votes in elections and that this result does not satisfy the party but that the elections allowed to strengthen party’s place in political arena of Uzbekistan and gained experience.
He stated that his party will continue to implement its pre-election promises and protect the interests of the voters.

Chairperson Ketmonov of PDPU:

Chairperson Hotamjon Ketmonov of the People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan stated at a briefing in Tashkent on March 30, 2015 that the PDPU recognized the results of the Presidential elections announced by the Central Election Commission. The PDPU leader said that he did not see any recorded violations of the legislation on election of the President of Uzbekistan. He noted that over 9,003 observers from his party observed the voting process and vote counting.
Ketmonov said that all Presidential candidates received equal conditions and that his party tried to use all opportunities provided by the legislation of Uzbekistan.
He stated that the election process was held in line with democratic principles such as openness and transparency. Ketmonov said that people of Uzbekistan actively participated in the elections, which will be an important stage for future activities of the party.
He admitted that he collected 2.92% votes and expressed gratitude to those who voted for him. Then he said that he would improve the program and try to meet the interests of wider layers of population. He said the party outlined its plans in this direction.
He congratulated President-elect Karimov on his victory and wished success in his activities directed at developing the country and increasing the prosperity of people.

CIS Mission Head Sergey Lebedev:

CIS Mission Head Sergey Lebedev (concurrently chairman of the CIS Executive Committee)stated on March 30, 2015 that the Presidential elections in Uzbekistanwere free and open and met commonly accepted democratic norms. He said that the elections fully complied with the Constitution and other legislation of Uzbekistan--ensuring right of citizens for freedom of expression. Lebedev then said that the observers recorded some violations, but they were technical and did not impact to results of the elections. He said all conditions were created to ensure objective elections.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO):

An observation mission of the SCO stated on March 30, 2015 that the Presidential elections in Uzbekistan complied with the electoral legislation of Uzbekistan. The Mission said that its observers visited polling stations in Tashkent city, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent regions and that it received full information on the candidates and their pre-election program.
The SCO mission stated that it recorded no violation of regulation on the use of mass media by candidates during agitation period. The Mission underlined a high political activity of the population. The Mission said that the elections were held strictly in accordance with the provisions of the legislation of Uzbekistan. It stated that there were no complaints from people or political parties.

▲Special Feature Editor James Koh in Tashkent (left) with an Uzbek interpreter.

AWEB Mission views Uzbek Presidential elections open:

An observation mission of the Association of World Election Bodies (AWEB) stated on March 30, 2015 that it recorded no violations of the electoral legislation of Uzbekistan during the Presidential elections. Head of the Mission and Director of Department of Planning of the AWEB Lee Jeong-Hee said that the Mission members visited seven polling stations in Tashkent and Samarkand and observed election process and vote counting.
He said that the elections were open and stable and the voters actively participated in the voting. The vote counting was open, transparent and operative.
The Mission underlined that there were no violations of the legislation during the election process. The Mission noted that there was a high political activeness of the population.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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