TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Uzbekistan’s leader on Monday called a snap presidential election for July, with the announcement coming a week after a constitutional referendum extended the term from five years to seven.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is in his second term, the maximum allowed by the constitution. But the referendum passage allows him to begin the count of terms anew and run for two more, raising the possibility that the 65-year-old leader could stay in office until 2037.
Prior to the referendum, many analysts expected him to begin the count only when his current term would have expired in 2026.
It wasn’t immediately clear who would compete in the July 9 presidential election, but Mirziyoyev would have almost no chance of losing. He has dominated Uzbek politics since taking over upon the death in 2016 of longtime leader Islam Karimov.
Mirziyoyev has introduced reforms that eased the draconian policies of Karimov, but the country remains strongly authoritarian with no significant opposition. All registered political parties are loyal to Mirziyoyev.