President Islam Karimov stood for re-election January 9 and won with 92 percent of the vote. Ninety-five percent of the 12.7 million eligible voters reportedly went to the polls. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not dignify the exercise with monitors.
President Karimov, 61, was first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan in the waning days of the Soviet Union. He became the country’s first president upon independence in December, 1991, and extended his term by five years in a referendum in 1995.
Even where elections are fundamentally fraudulent, a campaign carries a political message. President Karimov campaigned against Islamic extremism, depicting his rule as a bulwark against the violence that has engulfed neighboring Afghanistan and erupted at home when terrorist bombings killed sixteen and wounded over 100 persons last February in Tashkent. Two days before the election, the government announced the execution of six persons convicted of carrying out that attack.