September 9, 2016 / 10:21 AM / 3 years ago

Uzbekistan presidential election set for December 4

ALMATY (Reuters) - Uzbekistan will elect a new president on Dec. 4 following the death of veteran leader Islam Karimov last week, the elections authority said on Friday, as Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev looked set to take over.

Karimov died of a stroke on Sept.2 aged 78 after ruling the resource-rich Central Asian country of 32 million people for 27 years in an authoritarian manner, brooking no dissent.

Political parties will be able to nominate candidates between Sept. 30 and Oct. 20, Central Election Commission Chairman Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov told reporters.

On Thursday, Uzbekistan’s parliament named Mirziyoyev, 59, as interim president when the man who should have become transitional leader under the constitution bowed out in his favour, saying he had long experience in office and enjoyed the respect of people.

Mirziyoyev was also the official mourner-in-chief at Karimov’s funeral and met Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, strong signs that he is likely to succeed Karimov.

Uzbekistan has never held a vote judged free and fair by Western observers. Karimov was routinely reelected with more than 90 percent of the vote.

In a speech delivered in parliament on Thursday and published on Friday, Mirziyoyev pledged to continue Karimov’s policies, focusing on stability and security and sticking to the “Uzbek model” in economic matters.

Uzbekistan has been deliberately slow to introduce market reforms under Karimov and the economy remains dominated by the state.

Mirziyoyev also said Tashkent would continue the policy of avoiding military blocs and refusing to host military bases of foreign nations.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Additional reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Editing by Dominic Evans

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