The mercury is rising in Uzbekistan now that spring has arrived, yet the political temperature remains cool in advance of a presidential election March 29. Uzbekistan may suffer from a variety of political, social and economic ills, but election fever has never gripped this Central Asian state.
Islam Karimov – Uzbekistan’s aging strongman, who has ruled the country since the Soviet era – is set to sail to victory in the upcoming vote, flouting constitutionally mandated term limit provisions along the way.
On March 26, the day before the campaign ends, signs of political activity were thin on the ground in Uzbekistan’s capital. Election billboards featuring the four presidential candidates hung over major thoroughfares, but no posters were visible on the bustling streets of downtown Tashkent frequented by shoppers and office workers.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.