By Agha Iqrar Haroon
Less than 45 days are left for holding early presidential elections of Uzbekistan and four candidates are in run including the acting President and Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev.
Four candidates who were nominated for candidacy by their respective political parties including Shavkat Mirziyoyev who is candidate of ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan while Sarvar Otamuradov is nominated by Uzbekistan National Revival Democratic Party, Narimon Urmanov is nominee of Justice Social Democratic Party (Adolat) while Khatamjan Ketmanov is nominated by People’s Democratic Party of Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan holds all elections freely, openly and publicly. All the information and papers related to the electoral process are posted on the website of the CEC, along with the operating national press center and press centers of district electoral commissions.
Election campaign for Presidential Elections started on September 9 and CEC is looking after process to hold elections on December 4, 2016. The principal role in the process of preparations and holding of elections is played by CEC at all levels and it ensures transparency of electoral process.
Early Presidential Elections are held in Uzbekistan due to sad demise of Father of Nation and founding President Islam Karimov who died at the age of 78 year on September 2, 2016.
As an independent body, CEC has been functioning since 1998. CEC organizes and holds free and fair elections in Uzbekistan including elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, to the Oliy Majlis as well as referendum of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Commission ensures independence, legality, collegiality, publicity and fairness of election process.
The CEC of the Republic of Uzbekistan works on permanent basis and guides in its activity under powers given by the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, laws on elections and referendum of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other legislative acts.
The CEC promotes the implementation of democratic principles of the electoral system, and to ensure environment to express free will of voters.
Members of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan are elected by the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis. Chairman of the Central Election is elected from among its members upon the nomination of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Member of the CEC may not be member of another electoral Commission or any political party. Member of the CEC, by its decision, may work at the Commission on a permanent basis.
All Uzbeks over the age of 18 year have equal right to vote irrespective of their gender, racial and ethnic descent, language, attitude to religion, social origin, beliefs, personal and social status, education and nature of occupation.
It is noteworthy that the legislation stipulates that the election campaign can take the form of dissemination of information about the program and/or election platform of the political parties/candidates with an appeal to vote for its nominees for Presidential elections.
Election campaign can take the form of public debates, discussions, press conferences, interviews, speeches and addresses, meetings of voters, videos about the candidate for deputies and the political party. Election campaigns are allowed through mass media engagement, information-telecommunications networks of public access (including the internet), through the means of publication and dissemination of print, visual, audiovisual and other campaigning materials (banners, leaflets and other materials), as well as through meetings with the electorate.
In the meantime, the normative acts regulating the forms and methods of election campaign suggest that the information disseminated in mass media should reflect the reality, not violate the rights and legitimate interests of candidates. Spread of false data and information discrediting the honor and dignity of candidates is forbidden.
Presidential candidates are offered equal opportunities for unimpeded production and distribution of print, visual, audiovisual materials, sound records, electronic versions of print products and other campaigning materials.
During an election campaign, a candidate strives to attract attention to himself/herself by addressing on the radio, television, in the press with outlining his/her election platform that contains views of the candidate and the electorate on the current state of affairs in the society, on the way of changing the situation for the better, by placing emphases on real dimensions of activities. However, the volume of airtime and space in print editions granted to a candidate is strictly regulated in order to secure the equality of candidates for deputies.
The procedure of voting at polling stations is scrutinized by observers. A political party that has nominated candidate for Presidential Elections is entitled to appoint an authorized representative for the participation in counting votes at the polling station in an order defined by the CEC. Authorized representatives of political parties oversee the fact how the electoral commission, after the end of ballot, counts votes at the polling station and discharges unused ballot sheets and ballot papers. Following the vote counting, a report is drawn with the indication of all figures (numbers) in the results of voting.
The law allows presence of international observers representing foreign nations and international institutions endowed with the right to conduct oversight of the preparations and holding of elections in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
District electoral commissions are established by the CEC, comprising a chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary and at least six other members. The person-by-person composition of a district electoral commission is approved with a resolution of the CEC.
District Electoral Commission takes the lead role in holding election process and providing facilities to political parties and candidate. District Electoral Commission oversees the execution of the Law in the territory of the electoral district; establishes polling stations, fixes their numeration according to electoral district, publishes their list with an indication of their addresses; coordinates the activities of precinct electoral commissions; distributes funds among precinct electoral commissions, oversees the provision of precinct electoral commissions with rooms, vehicles, means of communication, and considers other issues relating to the material-technical provision of elections in the electoral district; ensures equal opportunities for candidates for deputies for the participation in the election campaign and hears reports from representatives of political parties, local government bodies, other government bodies and public organizations, heads of enterprises, institutions and organizations on issues pertinent to the preparations and conduct of elections.