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Window on Eurasia — New Series: Uzbek Constitutional Changes about More than Term Limits and Karakalpakstan’s Right to Secede, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 18 – Most analysts have focused only on two aspects of proposed constitutional changes in Uzbekistan, their potential to zero-out term limits on the current president and thus allow him to rule for life and their plan, since reversed, to drop a provision which gives Karakalpakstan the right to seek independence via a referendum.

            But as the Central Asian Bureau for Analytic Research points out, there are more changes being proposed and the process by which they will likely be adopted raises important questions about politics in that Central Asian country (

            Some of the proposed changes are entirely welcome such as introducing a permanent ban on the death penalty and limiting the ability of the authorities to control the Internet or confiscate property without court orders. But in most cases, these are steps the authorities could have taken legislatively without constitutional amendment.

            What is most important, the CABAR analysis says, is that Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev decided that the population must be involved via a referendum after the various proposals were reviewed and collected in a single document. The date for that vote has not yet been announced, but it is expected to take place before the end of the year.

            What is clearly going on, analysts like Temur Umarov and Yury Sarukhanyan say, is that Mirziyoyev wants to look good internationally by staging a referendum even though it is already clear that he will get the approval of a majority of anything he offers even though Uzbeks won’t be allowed to pick and choose about the various innovations.

            Sarukhanyan for his part suggests that this may mean that a struggle is still going on behind the scenes about how the next Uzbek succession will occur. Mirziyoyev may not be certain about all the players and so is using the amendment process including a referendum to find out  more. 

Window on Eurasia — New Series

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