October 28, 2016 / 5:48 PM / 3 years ago

Uzbekistan registers four presidential candidates

ALMATY (Reuters) - Uzbekistan’s election authorities registered four candidates on Friday for a Dec.4 presidential election, including acting president Shavkat Mirziyoyev who is seen by most observers as a clear favorite.

Mirziyoyev, 59, Prime Minister since 2003, has been nominated by the Liberal Democratic party which previously backed Islam Karimov during his long rule.

Karimov, Uzbekistan’s only president since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, died from a stroke last month, aged 78.

The central election commission said in a statement on Friday that Mirziyoyev’s opponents would be candidates put forward by three other political parties officially registered in the Central Asian nation of 30 million.

Karimov tolerated no dissent and those parties, despite billing themselves as opposition, have toed the official line on all important matters.

Sources told Reuters this month that Mirziyoyev has secured the support of Uzbekistan’s elites to become the public face of the Uzbek leadership with the title of president, although he would in reality share power with Rustam Inoyatov, Karimov’s veteran security chief, and Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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