Some time back SPR’s `observers’ to the uzbekistan elections pronounced the elections there `free and fair’ after only observing the voting process-and not the entire elections. Actually the EU only sent a partial team of observers there as though to tell the world that they are closing a eye on this elections without Opposition. Now you know what it means when SPR who don’t practice free and fair elections, pronounce an election free and fair by its standards!
Apathy and fear as Uzbekistan votes in election
TASHKENT, Dec 27 — Uzbekistan held a staged-managed parliamentary election on Sunday, drawing little Western criticism due to its key role in efforts to contain the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Central Asia’s most populous nation, ex-Soviet Uzbekistan has never held a vote judged free and fair by Western observers.
Once critical of the leadership’s intolerance of dissent, the West has kept quiet ahead of this vote as it seeks to engage Tashkent more in US efforts in Afghanistan and possibly convince it to reopen a key US military air base.
The election is certain to hand allies of President Islam Karimov, in power for two decades, all seats in the lower house of parliament. The country has no opposition parties and most pro-democracy figures are either in jail or in exile abroad.
“People here seriously do not care. … It’s not an election,” said one young resident of Tashkent, an ancient Silk Road city rebuilt in Soviet times after a ruinous earthquake.
Another one, a 32-year-old driver called Javokhir, said: “I am not going. I am not interested. What’s a parliament anyway?”
Fearful of reprisals, people were afraid to give full names.
Despite widespread apathy, the official turnout was high — at about 60 per cent by mid-afternoon and rising. In an echo of its Soviet past, voting in Uzbekistan is often compulsory in neighbourhoods and companies.
The election monitoring arm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe did not send a full mission, saying none of its earlier recommendations had been implemented.
In Tashkent, witnesses saw cases of multiple voting. One elderly woman brought a stash of passports to a polling station and was seen casting several ballots into a sealed box.
The central election commission could not be reached for comment despite numerous attempts to reach its media centre by telephone. A day earlier, commission head Mirza-Ulugbek Abdusalomov, said the process was transparent.
“The election is taking part in an increasingly active and healthy environment of social and political competition among parties,” he told reporters. The commission declared the election valid by mid-afternoon today.
The United States effectively cut off ties with Tashkent in 2005 after condemning it for opening fire on protesters in the city of Andizhan, killing hundreds, according to witnesses.
The Uzbek government says the events were orchestrated by Islamist extremists trying to topple it.
Shortly afterwards Uzbekistan — an agrarian nation where up to a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line — evicted US troops from an air base used for Afghan operations.
Talks on reopening the base resumed as the Afghan war took central stage in President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, diplomats say. Top officials such as Central Command chief General David Petraeus have made frequent visits to Tashkent.
Relations have warmed with Uzbekistan’s agreement to allow supplies to pass through its territory en route to Afghanistan, with which it shares a long border.
The European Union lifted sanctions on Uzbekistan in October, citing progress on human rights.
In Sunday’s vote, candidates from four parties are contesting 150 seats in the lower house. The Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, focused solely on environmental issues, automatically gets 15 seats in the chamber.
In an effort to add a veneer of competitiveness to the vote, the four parties have publicly criticised each other, mainly over social policy, while praising Karimov’s achievements.
Shirin, an elderly woman selling dried fruit in a Tashkent market bustling with pre-New Year shopping activity, saw little grounds for optimism.
“I really want things to change,” said the pensioner who stands in the cold for hours every day selling her produce to save money for her son’s wedding. “But I don’t know if it’s possible. It’s very hard to hope.” — Reuters