Uzbek elections pass without significant controversy

Election committee says nearly 90 percent of voters participated

By Rashid Musayev

2009-12-28

It was not a case of one vote per person in Uzbekistan’s elections Sunday; sometimes it was one voter per family.

That’s what happened with Elena, 50, who said she voted for herself, her husband and her sons.

“My family is still sleeping; we don’t care who to vote for. We don’t even know who the candidates are”, she said.

Sobir, 56, said he also voted for his whole family.

“My kids and wife have no idea about the candidates. The election committee members here tell everyone where to put the cross, and so I did. I read the last name of the person I voted for and just found out it is the mayor of our city”, he said.

Parliamentary elections, in which only pro-government parties participated, began at 5 a.m., but the first voters did not appear until about 9 a.m., Central Asia Online’s correspondent noticed.

Police and National Security Service representatives were at every polling station, watching the voters. Central Asia Online’s correspondent did not witness active voting, and by 3 p.m. there were almost no voters.

The election committee members either showed or at least hinted to voters who they should vote for, according to the reporter.

Central Asia Online’s correspondent reported most of the voters were elderly, though he noticed some students at polling stations near universities.

Atabek Naziyev, a student, said he “voted for those who help the youth go forward in all the spheres of the society”.

A representative of an opposition party, who didn’t want to give his name, said, “the Election of 2009 is a performance. We have about 3 million labour migrants in Russia and Central Asia. Will they be participating in the election? Probably their relatives will be forced to vote instead of them”.

The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ spokesperson Jens Eschenbaecher told Central Asia Online there would be no preliminary statement because the OSCE sent only 14 people to assess the vote in Uzbekistan this time. In its pre-election needs assessment report, it said, "The current political spectrum does not offer the electorate a genuine choice between competing political alternatives".

Other foreign observers said the elections followed international standards.

Andreas Alexandrapulos, an observer from Greece, said, “The elections are just the way they should be”.

Bushman Gubta, from India, said, “Everything is organized on the international standards level. Especially the polling boxes; we don’t have that in India”.

In the evening, the Central Election Committee (CEC) members and police representatives, visited hospitals and multi-storied buildings telling those who hadn’t voted that they must do it as soon as possible.

Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov voted Sunday morning. He told Uzbek state TV, “I am sure the principles of justice and transparency will be strictly observed during today’s elections. Elections mean a free voting with deep understanding of one’s rights. By participating in the elections, we not only realize our right to vote, guaranteed by the Constitution, but also acknowledge our responsibility for the future of our Motherland.”

The CEC reported at 10:30 p.m. that about 15.1 million voters, or 87.8 percent of registered voters, cast ballots.

CEC Chairman Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov said the elections of the deputies of the Legislative Chamber are considered legally valid.

He also said the Ecological Movement completed its conference, where 15 deputies were elected by secret ballot for the seats in the lower house of the parliament. Currently, the votes are being counted.

The chairman said that, the elections were held with observance of all democratic norms and principles, outlined in the Constitution and in the election laws, and that no information on violations of the election legislation were received.

Uzbekistan has 135 polling districts with 8,447 polling stations. More than 500 parliamentary candidates fought for 135 seats.

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