Uzbekistan Holds Parliamentary Elections Under New Leader

Naubet Bisenov

(Bloomberg) -- The people of Uzbekistan on Sunday voted in parliamentary elections for the first time since Shavkat Mirziyoyev became president of central Asia’s most populous nation in 2016.

Five parties are competing for the 150 seats in the so-called Oliy Majlis after a three-month election campaign. Voting began at 8 a.m. local time and closed at 8 p.m. Election authorities said the preliminary results would be announced at 2 p.m. on Monday.

After succeeding the late Islam Karimov, who ruled for more than 27 years until his death in 2016, Mirziyoyev has eased political repression and moved to liberalize the economy of the former Soviet republic of 33 million people.

Uzbekistan broke into international markets after more than two decades of isolation to sell $1 billion of Eurobonds in February. It set out plans this month to woo investors with about $6 billion in bond sales and privatizations of state companies over the next five years.

The elections taking place under the slogan “New Uzbekistan - New Elections” are “presented as a milestone” in the country’s plans to strengthen the role of parliament and political parties as well as civil society and the rule of law, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe wrote in a Dec. 13 interim report.

The OSCE has sent a full observer mission to Uzbekistan for the first time to monitor the elections and plans to present preliminary findings on the conduct of the vote on Monday.

(Updates with polls closing and likely timing of results in second paragraph.)

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