25 October 2021, Tashkent
On 16-24 October 2021, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) successfully accomplished a mission to monitor preparations for and the holding of elections of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. This was done at the invitation of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Uzbekistan and on the initiative of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Members of the SCO Observer Mission perceive the invitation of international observers as a striving of leaders of the Republic of Uzbekistan to ensure that the election is as open, transparent and democratic as possible.
1. The Mission's line-up
The Mission included 26 accredited observers representating legislative and election bodies of SCO member states, as well officials from the SCO Secretariat and the Executive Committee of the SCO's Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS).
SCO Deputy Secretary-General Yerik Ashimov headed the Mission.
From the SCO member states:
— Nurbol Abishev, Deputy Chair, District Election Commission, Almaty District, Nur-Sultan, Republic of Kazakhstan
— Kanat Arsakbayev, Director, Engineering and Technical Centre Republican State Enterprise, Central Election Commission, Republic of Kazakhstan
— Liu Yi, Second Secretary, Embassy of the People's Republic of China to the Republic of Uzbekistan
— Uzarbek Zhylkybayev, Member, Central Commission for Holding Elections and Referendums in the Kyrgyz Republic
— Kairat Mamatov, Member, Central Commission for Holding Elections and Referendums in the Kyrgyz Republic
— Ali Khurram, Councilor, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Uzbekistan
— Grigory Ledkov, Senator, Federation Council, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation
— Alexander Remezkov, Deputy, State Duma, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation
— Elmira Khaimurzina, Member, Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation
— Georgy Rubtsov, Councilor, Directorate for Interaction with Political Parties and International Cooperation, Staff of the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation
— Muiston Azizova, Member, Central Commission for Holding Elections and Referendums in the Republic of Tajikistan
— Nosirjon Salimi, Member, Central Commission for Holding Elections and Referendums in the Republic of Tajikistan.
From the SCO Secretariat:
— Zhang Haizhou, Deputy SCO Secretary-General
— Minara Rakhanova, Councilor
— Sin Fanfan, Councilor
— Samadi Shokhin, Expert First Category
— Daniar Chirkeyev, Adviser and the Mission's
Secretary from the SCO
— Rishab Deo, Adviser
— Aibek Narynbekov, Adviser.
From the Executive Committee of the SCO RATS:
— Vadim Barchuk, Deputy Director;
— Akhat Mukashev, Deputy Director;
— Altamash Wazir Khan, Senior Expert;
— Sun Qian, Senior Expert;
— Ruslan Nurmatov, Expert First Category;
— Daniar Abdibayev, Adviser.
2. The Mission's work
The Mission carried out its functions pursuant to the regulation On the SCO Observer Mission at Presidential and/or Parliamentary Elections as well as Referendums, adhering to the principles of political neutrality, impartiality and non-interference in the internal affairs of the state and in strict conformity with the national laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In August 2021, the SCO Secretariat started forming the Mission and conducting an in-depth analysis of electoral laws and the practice of holding elections in Uzbekistan.
The Mission operated under the Mission's Programme for Observing Preparations for and Holding the Presidential Election in Uzbekistan.
The Mission held several meetings and conversations with the leadership of Uzbekistan's Central Election Commission as well as chairpersons, secretaries and members of city, district and precinct election commissions, voters, local observers, members of international organisations' observer missions and media representatives.
All of the Mission's opinions and conclusions are based on its members' personal observations and factual evidence collected ahead of and on the day of the presidential election in Uzbekistan.
3. The legal framework for holding elections and recent changes to the electoral legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan
The legal framework for the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan rests on of the Constitution, the Electoral Code and other regulations of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
In view of streamlining electoral legislation, Uzbekistan adopted its Electoral Code on 25 June 2019. The code put together five laws, which had operated separately before that and regulated preparations for and holding of elections of the President, Legislative Chamber deputies, Senators, deputies of regional, district and city kengash (councils) and established guarantees for a free expression of the citizens' will.
In 2021, the Electoral Code was amended and supplemented by two laws: On Amendments and Addenda to Some Legislative Acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan Aimed at Improving Electoral Laws, dated 8 February, and On Amendments and Addenda to the Electoral Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, dated 31 May.
The adoption of new laws called for amendments to some regulations and the Constitution of Uzbekistan.
Under the new electoral laws: elections shall be held on the first Sunday of the third ten-day period of October; with a view to ensuring financial transparency, political parties shall publish pre-election interim and final financial reports, their activity shall also be audited by the Accounts Chamber of the Republic of Uzbekistan; election commissions are not responsible for organising meetings between candidates and voters; the legal consequences of depriving a candidate of his/her status or withdrawing his/her candidacy have been specified; now the laws have provisions on preventing abuse of state resources during the election campaign; they created conditions for the Uzbekistani citizens who are abroad during the elections to be included in the voter register; stipulated a procedure for visiting polling stations at correctional facilities for the observers; introduced the practice of processing complaints against the actions of election commissions by courts only; for the first time budgets for preparing and holding elections were approved and released four months before the voting date.
4. Using modern information, communications and digital technologies
The Republic of Uzbekistan improves the electoral process by introducing modern information, communications and digital technologies.
It continues the introduction of the Electoral Control Information System (ECIS). The ECIS makes it possible to keep the public informed about the electoral process and register eligible citizens for the voter roll, something that ensures its accuracy and rules out any possibility of double voting.
The Republic has developed the Saylov-2021 website, which focuses on all election-related events and processes. For the convenience of the participants in the electoral process, it has also developed the Saylov-2021 mobile app and an interactive map of electoral districts and polling stations. The Central Election Commission's website enables voters to find polling stations to which they are assigned.
It also makes it possible to obtain early voting statistics and monitor election-day turnout in real time.
The resources used to inform the public about elections are the official website of the Central Election Commission, YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, and Instagram. The voting process is relayed online and at the Central Election Commission's International Press Centre.
5. Candidates for the Presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Presidential candidates can be nominated only by political parties. One political party can nominate only one candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan. A political party can nominate a candidate for the presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan provided that it was registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan not later than four months before the day on which the beginning of election campaign was announced.
The nomination of candidates for the presidency of the Republic of Uzbekistan began sixty-five days before the election. The registration of candidates ended thirty-five days before the election.
The five effective political parties nominated the following candidates to run for President of the Republic of Uzbekistan:
The Ecological Party of Uzbekistan: Narzullo Oblomurodov
The People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan: Maqsuda Vorisova
The Movement of Entrepreneurs and Business People — Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan: Shavkat Mirziyoyev
The Milliy Tiklanish National Revival Democratic Party of Uzbekistan: Alisher Qodirov
The Adolat Social Democratic Party of Uzbekistan: Bahrom Abduhalimov.
6. Election campaigning
The media-announced election campaign began on 20 September 2021.
The election campaigning was carried out via:
— online and print media and public information and telecommunications networks;
— production and distribution of printed, graphic, audiovisual and other campaign materials;
— meetings with voters.
The candidates and the political parties were guaranteed equal terms of media access for campaigning purposes.
The Mission notes that the election campaign events were held in conformity with the laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the basis of publicity and broad civic awareness, and enjoyed all-round media coverage.
During the period of its work, the Mission received no complaints or criticisms as regards the election campaign.
7. Environment for voters with disabilities
The Republic of Uzbekistan has created the necessary conditions as well as opportunities for equal and free exercise of constitutional rights for persons with disabilities. Uzbekistan has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; enacted a Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; the Central Election Commission adopted a resolution On Additional Measures to Ensure the Electoral Rights of Persons with Disabilities, memorandums of cooperation between the Central Election Commission and the Society of Disabled People of Uzbekistan, the Society of the Blind of Uzbekistan, the Society of the Deaf of Uzbekistan and the Association of Disabled People of Uzbekistan.
The polling stations have compiled lists of persons with disabilities in the constituency; provided blind voters with ballots in Braille; provided visually impaired voters with magnifying glasses for filling out the ballot without help; and installed special voting booths and ramps for wheelchair users and other persons with limited mobility.
Citizens with disabilities were entitled by the law to invite another person into the secret ballot booth or room to fill out the ballot.
The Central Election Commission website published audio and sign language versions of candidates' biographies and programmes for persons with disabilities.
8. Preparation for the election
As many as 10,760 polling stations have been established in 14 constituencies, including 55 at Uzbekistan's diplomatic missions in foreign countries.
The Central Election Commission adopted the Concept of organising advanced training for members of election commissions and conducted training in several stages.
More than 30,000 candidates for the positions of the chair, deputy chairs and secretaries to local election commissions enrolled in the training programme.
After the election commissions were formed, all their members also completed a training course. The participants passed exams at the end of each level of the training and practical classes.
A training seminar was also organised for members of district election commissions.
To improve the electoral culture of all participants, lectures, video tutorials, manuals, handbooks, memos, brochures, and infographics were prepared, which were regularly published on the Central Election Commission's information resources.
The Central Election Commission operated a Press Centre with regional offices to inform the public on the processes at all stages of the electoral process.
Press briefings and news conferences on the election were broadcast in real time on the television channels Uzbekistan 24, O‘zbekiston, UzReport, Oilaviy and Dunyo bo‘ylab.
The Central Election Commission compiled a Unified Electronic Voter Roll, which was used at polling stations on the election day.
On 25 August 2021, an Instruction on COVID-19 precautions during the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted to prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection. It contained requirements for all participants in the electoral process to comply with the public health rules during the voting period.
9. Election day
Members of the Mission monitored the election process in the city of Tashkent, and the Andijan, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and Khorezm regions in order to gain the most detailed insight into the course of the election process in Uzbekistan.
Members of the Mission monitored the election process at the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the People's Republic of China and also watched online broadcasts from polling stations in Uzbekistan.
The Mission monitored preparations of polling stations prior to opening, including the sealing of stationary and portable ballot-boxes.
The Mission noted that the voting process officially opened to the sounds of the state anthem of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
On the election day, the voting process was held from 8 am until 8 pm, and vote counting began immediately after the voting ended.
As part of their work, members of the Mission visited 217 polling stations, as well as regional and district election bodies of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Members of the Mission indepedently selected polling stations to be monitored by them. Members of the Mission faced no obstacles while visiting any of the polling stations.
The Mission noted the active involvement of citizens and high voter turnout.
Members of district election commissions created the required conditions for voting. During the voting process, they remained unbiased, provided exhaustive explanations to voters requesting assistance, displayed consideration and an attentive attitude towards voters, local, public and international observers and journalists. The work of the election commissions was competent, open, transparent and independent.
Members of district election commissions provided documents and reference materials, methodological guidebooks, duty schedules, evacuation diagrams and other documents in full volume.
Representatives of the Mission received no complaints or criticisms on election day.
10. The main conclusions
The Mission hereby states that the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan met the requirements of election legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the international obligations assumed by the country.
The Mission found no violations of election legislation that may have cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
The Mission recognises the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan as transparent, authentic and democratic.
The Mission hereby states that the election of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan became an important step for the future development of democratic processes in Uzbekistan.
The Mission congratulates the people of Uzbekistan on completing the election and wishes them every success in implementing its policy to strengthen the country's independence, sovereignty and socioeconomic development, as well as new achievements and prosperity.
Observer Mission
of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
25 October 2021, Tashkent