Uzbekistan votes in parliamentary polls
Uzbeks voted Sunday in parliamentary elections in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state where all four competing parties support President Islam Karimov.
Tashkent: Uzbeks voted Sunday in parliamentary elections in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state where all four competing parties support President Islam Karimov.
More than 20 million voters registered to elect the 150-seat lower house of parliament, the Oliy Majlis, after the authorities sent out text messages urging people to vote.
Polling stations opened at 6:00 am (0100 GMT) and closed at 8:00 pm.
Turnout reached more than 88 percent, the central election commission said.
The head of the commission, Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalamov, praised the participation and declared the elections valid.
President Karimov has transferred some powers to parliament in recent years, including a mechanism for a vote of no confidence in the government and allowing the party with the majority of seats to nominate the prime minister.
Four parties -- the Liberal Democratic Party, People`s Democratic Party, the Democratic Party Milly Tiklanish (National Revival) and the Social Democratic Party "Adolat" (Justice) -- are competing to fill 135 seats.
All of them support Karimov.
The remaining 15 seats will automatically go to the country`s Ecological Movement, founded in 2008 and composed of activists from pro-government environmentalist groups and health sectors.
"I don`t know from which party (she is), but I voted for a paediatrician woman, I chose her because she is a doctor," said 67-year-old Mavluda, her grandson in tow, after voting in a school in a residential area in northern Tashkent.
"I chose a candidate who is from my hometown, Khorezm. But I know my vote does not matter, everything is pre-decided for us," said a man in his sixties, asking not to be named.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) deployed a small monitoring mission for the vote, citing the "limited nature of the competition".
Some 300 international observers, mostly from other organisations, observed the vote, according to the election commission.
Uzbekistan`s presidential poll will be held in March.
Karimov, who has ruled the country for the past two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union, won a new seven-year term in December 2007.
Uzbekistan`s parliament amended the constitution to shorten the presidential term from seven to five years in 2012.
Karimov, 76, has not publicly named a successor and indicated in May that he wanted to stay on in his role.