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Uzbekistan concludes period for consultations on public assembly law


Uzbekistan concludes period for consultations on public assembly law

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Uzbekistan will today conclude public consultation on draft legislation aimed at granting people the right to public assembly. The bill permits gatherings on weekdays between 10:00 and 18:00 for no longer than two hours. Organisers will have to request authorisation 15 days in advance.

The proposed bill follows President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s intention to take Uzbekistan on a path towards economic and social liberalisation. Tashkent has adopted a more open visa policy and relaxed currency exchange rules while supporting small businesses. A new foreign investment law has improved the business climate and facilitated the improvement of foreign relations.

The bill reflects a positive response to the resurgence of protests in Uzbekistan since 2016 and efforts to emerge from its isolationism. However, the persistence of authoritarian institutions in Tashkent calls into question the effectiveness of such reforms. If the former Soviet republic intends to open up and encourage a transparent democracy, the road is likely to be long.

In a country where opposition is non-existent, expect the bill to pass without much contest. Frustration is great among many Uzbeks, whose expectations of the country’s new administration have been dashed. In the absence of an opposition represented in official state bodies, such as the parliament, frustration will continue to be directed towards the government.

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