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Protest in Uzbekistan region over constitution reform

Protest in Uzbekistan region over constitution reform

Protest in Uzbekistan region over constitution reform

Protest in Uzbekistan region over constitution reform

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  • Reforms would extend presidential terms from five to seven years.
  • Benefit authoritarian leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
  • protesters took to the streets in an autonomous republic.
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Police in Uzbekistan said protesters took to the streets in an autonomous republic Friday due to a “misinterpretation” of constitutional reforms expected to go to referendum in the near future.

Spontaneous protests are both exceptionally rare and illegal in ex-Soviet Uzbekistan, the most populous country in majority-Muslim Central Asia with around 35 million inhabitants.

Numerous videos posted on the messaging service Telegram showed thousands of people massing in Karakalpakstan after draft constitutional changes published last weekend appeared to eliminate the region’s right to self-determination.

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Police said they had acted “to prevent violations of public order and prevent citizens from committing various offences” in the region’s administrative capital Nukus Friday and that the unrest had now subsided.

The interior ministry statement added that “work is being carried out with citizens to clarify the inadmissibility of violations of the law, (and) consider citizens’ appeals in the prescribed manner”.

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The incoming constitution would extend presidential terms from five to seven years, benefiting current authoritarian leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

Public discussion of the document will end on Monday and a referendum on the reforms is expected in the coming months.

In addition to removing Karakalpakstan’s right to a referendum on self-determination, the new draft basic law makes no mention of the republic’s symbolic “sovereign” status.

The Committee to Protect Journalists watchdog said Friday night that it was concerned for the safety of a Karakalpak journalist, Lolagul Kallykhanova.

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Kallykhanova “was detained today shortly after she posted a video calling on Karakalpaks to secede from Uzbekistan in protest at constitutional changes that would deprive the region of the right to self-determination”, the CPJ wrote on Twitter.

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Karakalpakstan, which takes the name of the Karakalpak Turkic minority that lives in the region, is one of Uzbekistan’s poorest administrative territories.

It is famed as the site of one of the world’s largest man-made environmental catastrophes, the shrinking of the Aral Sea that borders Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, which was caused by Soviet irrigation projects that diverted its tributary rivers.

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