Uzbek leader wants to stay until 2040
Uzbekistan on Sunday held a rare national referendum on changes to the constitution that promise more social protections like abolishing the death penalty, cracking down on forced labor in cotton fields, or criminalizing domestic violence.
But there's a catch: In a classic move from the authoritarian playbook, the proposed tweaks to the charter also include extending the president's term in office to two seven-year periods and resetting the current one to zero upon its conclusion. That means President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who just began his second five-year term, could stay in office for another 14 years after 2026.
After taking power in 2016 upon the death of former dictator Islam Karimov, Mirziyoyev was "reelected" in October 2021 with 90% of the vote, par for the course for a despot in the post-Soviet 'Stans of Central Asia. He's widely perceived as being less thuggish than Karimov — famous for (allegedly) having his enemies boiled alive — but so far Mirziyoyev is ruling with a similar iron fist and zero tolerance for dissent.
The referendum passed with 90.21% of the vote, unofficial early results showed Monday.