President Mirziyoyev is abandoning plans to restrict Karakalpak’s autonomy following a rare public protest in Northwestern Province.
Uzbekistan has announced a month-long state of emergency in an autonomous republic where rare protests have forced President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to reverse some constitutional reforms.
President Mirziyoyev’s press secretary Sherzod Asadov wrote on Telegram on Saturday that the state of emergency in the Republic of Karakalpakstan would run from just after midnight on Sunday (1900 GMT Saturday) until August 2.
The measure was taken to “ensure the safety of citizens, protect their rights and freedoms (and) restore public order” in the territory, the statement added.
> Uzbekistan’s president had arrived in Karakalpakstan on Saturday and promised that proposed constitutional amendments that would have weakened the territory’s status would be dropped.
A rally was held on Friday to protest against constitutional reform plans that would have changed the status of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic home to the Karakalpak people – an ethnic minority group with their own language, Uzbek authorities said.
Police dispersed protesters after some attempted to storm local government buildings in the region’s capital, Nukus, following a march and rally at the city’s central market, local and government officials said.
Under the current Uzbek constitution, Karakalpakstan is described as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan and has the right to secede by holding a referendum.
The new version of the constitution – on which Uzbekistan plans to hold a public vote in the coming months – would no longer mention Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty or its right to secession.
But in a quick reaction to the protest, Mirziyoyev said during a visit to Karakalpakstan on Saturday that changes to his status should be removed from the proposed reform, his office said in a statement.
The Karakalpakstan government said in a statement on Saturday that police had arrested the leaders of Friday’s protest and several other protesters who put up resistance.
A joint statement by the republic’s police, parliament and cabinet said “provocateurs” had attempted “to seize state institutions… to divide society and destabilize the socio-political situation in Uzbekistan.”
“A group of mass riot organizers and people who actively resisted law enforcement have been arrested. Investigative actions are underway against them,” the statement said, blaming the unrest on a “criminal group.”
The changes regarding Karakalpakstan were part of a broader constitutional reform proposed by Mirziyoyev, which also includes strengthening civil rights and extending the presidential term to seven years from five.
If the reform is approved in the planned referendum, it would reset Mirziyoyev’s term count and allow him to run for two more terms.