Mirziyaev proposes direct election of regional governors in Uzbekistan

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TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan’s President-elect Shavkat Mirziyaev has proposed direct elections of regional governors and city mayors in the country, to make officials more accountable to citizens.

Speaking on December 7 at an event in Tashkent devoted to the 24th anniversary of the adoption of the country’s Constitution, Mirziyaev said that “We also need to think about and discuss the issue to allow in future the election of local khokims (governors and mayors) directly by the people themselves. If each and every region elects its own leader, it can be possible to dramatically increase the accountability of heads [of regions] before the people and society.”

Currently, regional governors and city mayors in Uzbekistan are appointed by the president.

“In this respect, it is envisaged to adopt the concept of reforms in the sphere of administrative governance in the Republic of Uzbekistan aimed for 2017-2021. According to this concept, the concrete measures will be implemented to optimize the structure, tasks and authorities of bodies of state governance, reduce its non-pertinent and duplicating functions, cut the total number of employees, and dramatically decrease the role of the state in the management of the economy,” Mirziyaev said.

He also suggested to declare 2017 the Year of Dialogue with the People and Human Interests.

Mirziyaev, a longtime prime minister, was elected president on December 4 after three months as interim president following the death of Islam Karimov, who had ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since 1989.

Mirziyaev’s government has released some people widely seen as political prisoners, made steps to improve ties with neighboring Central Asian countries, and established channels aimed to improve communication between citizens and the authorities, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reported. However, critics say such steps fall short of real reforms that could improve people’s lives and provide them with basic human rights.

Sergey Kwan

TCA