Uzbekistan Karakalpakstan autonomy protests and quick u-turn
Kanako Mita and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan was forced to drop the constitutional reform plan concerning the changed status of the autonomy of Karakalpakstan province. The proposed reform would have curtailed the cherished autonomy of the Karakalpak people.
Mass protests by the Karakalpak people took the Uzbekistan government by surprise. Thus, the size of the protests – and the fear of further bloodshed – entailed that Mirziyoyev announced a u-turn. Therefore, the autonomy angle is set to continue after the government witnessed the enormous animosity to the proposed changes.
Channel News Asia (CNA) says, “Under the current Uzbek constitution, Karakalpakstan is described as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan that has the right to secede by holding a referendum.”
Voice of America reports, “Uzbekistan’s president had arrived in Karakalpakstan Saturday and promised that proposed constitutional amendments that would have weakened the territory’s status would be scrapped.”
Mirziyoyev said, “Unfortunately, there are fatalities among civilians and law enforcement officers.”
Sherzod Asadov, the Press Secretary to the leader of Uzbekistan, said a one-month state of emergency is to be put in place in Karakalpakstan. Asadov said this is to “ensure the safety of citizens, protect their rights and freedoms [and] restore law and order.”
Uzbekistan’s political elites have responded quickly to the crisis. Therefore, Mirziyoyev is hoping that he can contain the crisis by placating the indigenous of Karakalpakstan.
He deems himself a reformer compared with the former leader of Uzbekistan. If so, Mirziyoyev should introduce economic and structural enhancements to Karakalpakstan to restore hope and trust.
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