"When they ask me "who is the President of Uzbekibekibekistanstan?"
I am going to say, "you know, I don't know, do you know?"
Knowing who is the head of some of some of these small,
insignificant states around the world - I don't think that is
something that is critical to focusing on national security."
Herman Cain, 09 October 2011
Islam Abduganievich Karimov - Career
Islam Abduganievich Karimov was born into a family of civil servants January 30, 1938 in the central Uzbek city of Samarkand. He is Uzbek by nationality and is an economist by profession. He studied engineering and economics at the Central Asian Polytechnic and the Tashkent Institute of national economy, receiving degrees as an engineer-mechanic and economist. He began work in 1960 at Tashselmash. From 1961-66 he worked as an engineer, a leading engineer-constructor at the Chkalov Tashkent aviation production complex.
Karimov served in the Uzbek Communist Party throughout his political career. He began working as a civil servant in 1966 at the State planning office of the UzSSR, where he worked as chief specialist and later as first deputy chairman of the State planning office. In 1983 I. Karimov was appointed Minister of finance of the UzSSR, in 1986 – deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers of the UzSSR and chairman of the State planning office. In 1986-89 he was first secretary of the Kashkadarya provincial party committee.
In June 1989, Karimov was appointed First Secretary of the Central committee of the Uzbekistan Communist Party in an attempt to placate Uzbek nationalists who were demanding greater autonomy from the Soviet Union. Since Karimov does not belong to a clan like most Uzbeks, his selection avoided creating the impression that Moscow was trying to play favorites among the different factions. In 1990, the Uzbek Supreme Soviet elected him to the newly created post of President, and he also became a member of the Soviet Communist Party Politburo.
On March 24, 1990, he was elected President of the Uzbek SSR. On August 31, 1991, he declared the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Shortly after independence, Karimov won the country's first presidential elections, held December 29, 1991. Karimov was popularly elected President with 86% of the vote against Erk Party candidate Mohammed Solikh. Immediately afterwards, his regime cracked down on opposition groups, causing many prominent critics of his rule to flee the country, and this continues to the present.
In a controversial move, Karimov held a referendum on March 26, 1995 in which the end of his term was extended from 1997 to 2000. He then won the 09 January 2000 elections, in elections that "included choice". He was effectively unopposed, winning 91.9% of the vote, in elections which outside observers deemed unfair. In 2002 he again managed to secure support in a referendum for an extension of the presidential term - from five to seven years. This measure came into effect after the 2005 presidential vote. After the parliament extended the presidential term to 7 years, President Karimov was re-elected on 23 December 2007 with 88.1% of the vote. This presidential election featured only three token opposition candidates who together received less than 12% of the vote. Some believed that Karimov's continuance in the post of Uzbekistan's president was illegal since the constitution restricts presidents from serving more than two terms, though no one in Uzbekistan has yet challenged him on this point.
In December 2011, the Oliy Majlis (parliament) adopted amendments to the constitution which again reduced the presidential term to 5 years. However, this would not affect President Karimov’s current term, which was set to finish in 2014.
On 29 March 2015 voters returned President Islam Karimov to a fourth term. He had ruled the country for a quarter-century. Three other candidates were also vying for the presidency, but those candidates campaigned for strongman Karimov, calling him "the best candidate." There was no opposition in the impoverished state. The OSCE’s limited election observation mission noted that the “electoral legal framework does not provide for the conduct of democratic elections” because all candidates publicly endorsed President Karimov’s policies, proxy voting was rampant, and there were procedural problems and irregularities in vote tabulation.
For his outstanding contribution to education in Uzbekistan, creation of a state based on democratic laws, guarantee of civil peace and national accord, and for courage, I. Karimov was awarded the title Hero of Uzbekistan and the awards Mustakillik (Independence) and Amir Temur. He received awards from foreign states and international organizations. He was a full member of the Academy of sciences of Uzbekistan. For his contribution to economics, science, and education he was awarded honorary doctorates from 9 foreign institutions.
He was the initiator and leader of historic transformations in the country. He has directly contributed to:
- a program of independent development of the country, and the Constitution;
- a program of state and social construction, reform of administration, both central and locally;
- a model of economic development based on five principles: de-ideologization of the economy, supremacy of laws, step-by-step reform, state regulation during the transition period and strong social policy;
- reform of the armed forces, border forces;
Islam Karimov is married, with two daughters and five grandchildren. His wife T.A. Karimova is an economist and scientific worker. Both Karimov daughters hdld diplomatic postings outside of Uzbekistan -- Gulnora in Geneva, and Lola at UNESCO in Paris. Due to squabbles over business interests, Gulnora is reportedly estranged from her younger sister Lola. Gulnora is also viewed as much closer to her father than Lola.
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