World Bulletin / News Desk
Uzbekistan's authoritarian leader Islam Karimov is certain to extend his 26-year rule in a presidential election on Sunday, a result that is likely to prolong the problems facing the Central Asian country.
The 77-year-old ex-communist chief, who tolerates no dissent and has been criticised by Western human rights groups, used a legal loophole to seek five more years in power. His three rivals pose no real challenge.
But Karimov's health is uncertain and critics say the lack of a clear successor threatens a power vaccuum when his rule eventually ends in the impoverished state, where former master Russia, the West and China all have strong interests.
"We can only guess how much longer he will last. But any power transfer is most likely only if he dies, and it may take various unexpected forms."
There are several theories as to why Karimov doesn’t face much opposition in the country of 30.2 million people. In power since 1989, the Uzbek strongman has all but eliminated potential competitors for power, either through assassination, persecution, or forced exile.
The election takes place two months before the 10th anniversary of what New York-based Human Rights Watchcalled "one of Eurasia's bloodiest massacres" - the killing of hundreds of protesters by governemnt forces in the eastern city of Andizhan.
"The 10 years since have been marked by an extraordinary and continuing assault on human rights...which shows no signs of abating on the eve of Karimov's re-election," Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at HRW, told Reuters.Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Mart 2015, 12:25