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Uzbek President Wins Landslide Re-Election

By VOA News
24 December 2007

Uzbekistan's authoritarian President Islam Karimov has won a new term in office, after an election that international monitors are calling undemocratic.

The Uzbek Central Election Commission says Mr. Karimov received 88.1 percent of the vote in Sunday's poll. President Karimov's bid for a third term was opposed by three little-known candidates belonging to pro-government political parties.

The opposition denounced the vote as a Soviet-style one-man contest.

Election monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe issued a statement Monday, saying the presidential poll failed to meet democratic standards. OSCE officials said Sunday's vote was held in a strictly controlled political environment, leaving no room for real opposition.

During his time in power, Mr. Karimov has jailed or exiled his political opponents, suppressed freedom of the press, and cracked down on Muslims worshiping outside state-controlled institutions.

Human rights groups say Uzbek jails hold thousands of political and religious prisoners, many of whom face hardships, including torture.

President Karimov ordered the closure of a U.S. air base in 2005, following Western criticism of his government's crackdown on an uprising in the eastern city of Andijan, in which government troops killed several hundred protesters. Since then, the Uzbek leader has strengthened ties with Russia and China.

The former Soviet republic is rich in energy resources, and exports most of its natural gas to Russia.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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