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Uzbekistan - Government

The constitution and law provide citizens with the right to change their government peacefully. In practice the government severely restricted freedom of expression and suppressed political opposition. President Karimov ruled a highly centralized government through sweeping decree powers, primary authority for drafting legislation, and control over government appointments, most of the economy, and the security forces.

The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted on December 8, 1992, by the 11th Session of the Supreme Council of the 12th convocation. It is based on the provisions of UN documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international public law. The Constitution consists of the preamble and six sections which include 26 chapters and 128 articles. The first section defines the major principles of the Constitution, the second section secures the fundamental rights, freedoms, and responsibilities of the people and citizens; the third section is devoted to the economic and social bedrock of the state; the fourth section determines the administrative, territorial and state structure; the fifth section defines the structure and functions of the government; the sixth section of the Constitution regulates the order of its amendment.

Under terms of a December 1995 referendum, Karimov's first term was extended to 2000. Another national referendum was held January 27, 2002 to yet again extend Karimov's term. The referendum passed and Karimov's term was extended to December 2007. International observers refused to participate in the process and did not recognize the results, dismissing them as not meeting basic standards. Also passed in the 2002 referendum was a plan to create a bicameral Parliament.

President

The presidency was instituted in Uzbekistan on March 24, 1990. The president is the head of the state and executive power. The president selects and replaces provincial governors. The president of the Republic of Uzbekistan is simultaneously the Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The President is elected by nation-wide elections for a term of five years. A citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan, who has reached the age of 35 years, having an excellent command of the official language, permanently residing in the territory of Uzbekistan not less than 10 years prior to the elections can be elected as the president. One and the same person cannot be the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan over two successive terms. The constitutional authorities of the President are extensive.

Islam Karimov has dominated the leadership since 1989 when he rose to be Communist Party leader in then Soviet Uzbekistan. The following year he was elected to a 5-year presidential term in December 1991 with 88% of the vote and continued in the post after independence. A referendum held in 1995 extended his term until 2000 when he won the presidential elections unopposed with 91.9% of the vote. 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 in December 2007 with 88.1% of the vote. In December 2011, the Oliy Majlis (parliament) adopted amendments to the constitution which again reduced the presidential term to 5 years. However, this will not affect President Karimovs current term, which is set to finish in 2014.

Cabinet of Ministers

The Cabinet of Ministers is formed by the president and approved by the Oliy Majlis of the republic. The Cabinet of Ministers is the supreme executive power of the state. The Cabinet of Ministers include the Prime Minister, First Deputy Prime Minister, Deputies of the Prime Minister, ministers, chairmen of state committees, heads of large state concerns and corporations, and the Chairman of Karakalpakstan's government. The Cabinet of Ministers ensures the execution of laws and other decisions issued by the Oliy Majlis and decrees and orders of the President. The Cabinet of Ministers also guarantees effective functioning of the economy, society and the spiritual sphere. It issues decrees and enactments, which are mandatory for the execution by all the acting bodies, institutions, and citizens in the entire territory of the country.

Oliy Majlis - Legislative Chamber

The Oliy Majlis is the supreme representative body in the republic. The Uzbek parliament is widely considered to be a virtually impotent body that exists only to rubber stamp the laws set forth by the president. The law on the elections to the Oliy Majlis was issued on December 28, 1993. First elections were held on December 25, 1994. Two hundred and fifty deputies formed one chamber and were elected in their territorial constituencies on a multi-party basis for the term of five years. Citizens of the republic who had reached the age of 25 can be elected to the Oliy Majlis. The deputies to the Oliy Majlis enjoy immunity status. The session of the Oliy Majlis is held not less than twice a year.

The 2002 referendum approved a plan to create a bicameral Parliament. Now the Legislative Chamber consists of 120 Deputies elected by territorial constituencies on multiparty basis.

Oliy Majlis - Senate

The Uzbek Senate is meant to be a council of "white beards"-an Uzbek expression signifying society's most experienced and respected elders. (Of course, some women are now considered to be "white beards.") In theory, Senators-and particularly those appointed by the President-are those experienced Uzbek patriots who are recognized for their "special service" to their country. They are intended to represent a broad spectrum of the country's most respected citizens, from intellectuals to business leaders. Of the 100 Senators in the Oliy Majlis, sixteen are appointed by the President. The remaining 84 Senators are elected by the members of regional councils, from their ranks - six persons from each territorial entity (Republic of Karakalpakstan, provinces and the City of Tashkent). Usually the most important members of the regional councils are selected to serve in the Senate-for example, the governors of each province are also chosen to serve as Senators. Given that regional governors are appointed by the President and are virtually guaranteed Senate seats, the President exercises de facto control over 28 Senate seats. Senators serve five year terms, and Senatorial appointments are made in conjunction with the popular election of the Lower House of Parliament. Unlike Members of Parliament, who are expected to give up any other work when they are elected to Parliament, Senators are technically allowed to keep their "day jobs."

Following a 2010 speech by President Karimov on expanding the role of civil society, the Senate was granted some authority over domestic policy and some civil society actors were given more room to operate, particularly in education and womens issues. The government also embarked on a campaign to draft new legislation that would, if enacted and adhered to, improve the operational environment for civil society. However, the government still controls most civil society activity.

Judicial Authority

The court is the sole state body which administers justice. Judicial system of Uzbekistan consists of the following: The Constitutional Court which controls the execution of the Constitution and its principles by all the branches of the government; the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan which is the paramount body in the system of civil, criminal and administrative legal proceedings; Supreme Economic Court is the ultimate judicial body in the sphere of regulating economic relations. The supreme judicial bodies are elected for a term of five years. The judicial system also includes the Supreme Court of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the Economic Court of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, the Tashkent Municipal Court, regional, district, town, economic and military courts appointed for a term of five years. The law On Courts dated September 2, 1993 defined the legal status of the above courts.

Local Government

The country is divided into twelve provinces (wiloyatlar ; sing., wiloyat ), one autonomous republic (the Karakalpakstan Republic), 156 regions, and 123 cities. In Uzbekistan's system of strong central government, local government has little independence. The chief executive of each province and of Tashkent is the hakim , who is appointed by the president. Although these appointments must be confirmed by local legislative bodies that are elected by popular vote, the power of the president is dominant.

The President of the Republic appoints the Khokims (governors) of each region of Uzbekistan, who in turn appoint local (district or city) Khokims. Under the Constitution, the Khokims head both executive and legislative powers at regional, district and city levels. The Khokims and Khokimats (executive apparatus) at regional, district and city levels are heavily involved in and exercise overwhelming influence on the electoral process for the Oliy Majlis, including a key role in the nomination of candidates and the conduct of elections.

The Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan also officially elects its own legislature; the chairman of the legislature serves as the republic's head of state and as a deputy chairman of the national parliament. But in the autonomous republic, too, government officials are generally powerless against Tashkent. Indeed, Karakalpak officials often are not included even in meetings of heads of state to discuss the fate of the Aral Sea, which is located within Karakalpakstan.



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