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Shavkat Mirziyoyev to succeed the late Islam Karimov as Uzbekistan leader

Observers believe that the new Uzbek President will take steps to get closer to Russia

Published: Updated:

The central election commission said that Uzbekistan, the biggest country in Central Asia in term of population, has its interim leader, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has won a crushing 88.61% presidential election.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev is a 59-year-old Muslim Sunni; he is married and has two daughters and a son. He is of Tajik origins like former President Islam Karimov.

Presidential elections were held in Uzbekistan on December 4, 2016, 3 months after the death of former President Islam Karimov in September. Observers expect Mirziyoyev to follow the footsteps of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, who died of a heart stroke.

According to the constitution, the parliament speaker Nehmat Allah Yuldashev is supposed to take in charge the country’s duties until the election of a new president, but the latter refused to take office, so the members of parliament agreed on Mirziyoyev as an interim president, who became Uzbekistan’s president with 82% of the votes.

Observers believe that the new Uzbek President will take steps to get closer to Russia; Uzbekistan was part of the former Soviet Union; it is the largest Muslim countries in the region in terms of population and there are Uzbek minorities in each of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.

The Republic of Uzbekistan was not open to the media and journalists, as was the case for the former Soviet Union. The country's leaders, led by Islam Karimov kept fighting for the extreme centralization and tight security in the country because of the fear from radical Islamic forces that are growing in Central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Afghan played a major role in fueling the situation where extremists are widely spread on the borders with Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Among the other alarming challenges facing the new president, are the economic ones that need to be addressed in a timely manner to improve the standards of living that are very low. Although observers expect that President Shavkat Mirziyoyev follow the footsteps of his predecessor in terms of foreign policies, they still wonder if he would give up on Karimov’s internal policies that were suppressing the most basic civil protests, as happened during the suppression of the rebellion in the city of Andijan in 2005 and resulted in the killing of dozens of protesters.

*This article can be viewed in Arabic on AlArabiya.net