Op-Ed: Old tricks in a new Uzbekistan—constitutional reform and popular legitimacy

By Akrom Avezov, 11 April 2023
President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev (photo credit: UzReport)
President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev (photo credit: UzReport)
The long journey of constitutional reforms in Uzbekistan is nearing its conclusion as the Oliy Majlis (Uzbekistan’s parliament) has scheduled a national referendum for April 30. The process was initiated by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who emphasized the need for a revised constitution during his second inauguration speech following his re-election in late 2021. The final draft revealed a substantial update, altering approximately 65 percent of the constitution, including the introduction of 27 new articles and 159 new provisions. Despite these comprehensive changes, numerous observers speculate that the primary motivation behind the referendum is to enable Mirziyoyev to seek a third or even potentially a fourth term as president. [...] Overall, the public plebiscite on the constitutional amendments has been portrayed as a de facto vote of confidence in Mirziyoyev’s rule. Thus, the timing is also key. Halfway through his seventh year in charge, the popularity of Mirziyoyev’s reforms is at a tipping point. If delayed further, rising frustration about the pace of changes slowing down could hinder a smooth reset of the clock. With the referendum’s results highly preordained, what comes after is the main cause for concern: It is not yet clear if Mirziyoyev’s government will continue to advance reforms or put them on hold, risking a crisis of legitimacy. What is clear is that either option might be a great challenge for his regime. 
Read the full article here: The Diplomat


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