Mindanao Times

Uzbekistan holds elections


VOTERS in Uzbekistan were heading to the polls Sunday in its first parliament­ary election since a new leader ushered in an era of reform after years of isolation and authoritar­ian rule.

Polling stations in Central Asia’s most populous country opened at 0800 local time (0300 GMT) and will close 12 hours later.

President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took charge in 2016 after the death of hardline predecesso­r and former patron Islam Karimov, who had ruled for almost three decades.

Mirziyoyev has been lauded for doing away with many of Karimov’s authoritar­ian excesses, releasing some political prisoners, battling forced labour and opening up the landlocked state to tourism and foreign investment.

But choices on the ballot in the former Soviet republic are few -- all five parties competing are represente­d in the outgoing parliament.

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