Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev (Uzbek Cyrillic and Russian: Шавкат Миромонович Мирзиёев; born 24 July 1957) is an Uzbek politician who has been President of Uzbekistan since 2016. Previously he was Prime Minister of Uzbekistan from 2003 to 2016.
Following the death of President Islam Karimov, he was appointed by the Supreme Assembly as interim President of Uzbekistan on 8 September 2016. He was subsequently elected as President in the December 2016 presidential election, winning 88.6% of the vote, and was sworn in on 14 December 2016.
Life and career
In 1981, Mirziyoyev graduated from the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration. He holds a Candidate (PhD) degree in Technological Sciences.
He served as governor (Hakim) of Jizzakh Region from 1996 to September 2001, then as governor of Samarqand Region from September 2001 until his appointment as Prime Minister in 2003. He was nominated as Prime Minister by President Islam Karimov on December 12, 2003 and approved by the Uzbek parliament. He replaced Prime Minister O‘tkir Sultonov. His deputy is Ergash Shoismatov.
Mirziyoyev and Han Myeong-sook, the Prime Minister of South Korea, met in Tashkent on 25 September 2006. They signed several agreements, including one deal in which Uzbekistan will send 300 tons of Uzbek uranium ore to South Korea every year from 2010 to 2014. The deal bypasses U.S. companies that acted previously as middlemen for South Korean imports of Uzbek uranium ore. Han also met with President Islam Karimov and parliament speaker Erkin Xalilov. Sook and Mirziyayev boosted cooperation in the energy, agriculture, construction, architecture, and information technology sectors. Trade between South Korea and Uzbekistan increased by nearly 40% between 2005 and 2006, to $565 million.
A member of the Samarkand clan, he was considered to be one of the leading potential successors to Islam Karimov as President of Uzbekistan. Mirziyoyev was reported to have friendly relations with Karimov's wife, Tatyana Karimova, and National Security Council chairman Rustam Inoyatov.
After the death of Karimov was announced on 2 September 2016, Mirziyoyev was appointed as head of the committee organizing the funeral of the President. That was taken as a sign that Mirziyoyev would succeed Karimov as President. On 8 September 2016 he was appointed as Interim President of Uzbekistan by a joint session of both houses of parliament. Although the Chairman of the Senate, Nigmatilla Yuldashev, was constitutionally designated as Karimov's successor, Yuldashev proposed that Mirziyoyev take the post of Interim President instead in light of Mirziyoyev's "many years of experience". There were expectations that Mirziyoyev would repair Uzbek relations with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. He started to settle a long-running border dispute with Kyrgyzstan, and regular flights between the capitals of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan were set to resume in January 2017 for the first time since 1992.
The electoral commission announced on 16 September that Mirziyoyev would stand in the December 2016 presidential election as the candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party.
Mirziyoyev won the election, held on 4 December 2016, with 88.6% of the vote according to official results, defeating three minor candidates. The election was described by the Economist as a sham; the paper wrote that Mirziyoyev's bent was as authoritarian as that of Karimov, and that state media claimed the choice was between Mirziyoyev, chaos, or Islamic radicalism. It also claimed that the three opponents were only on the ballot to keep up the appearance of pluralism. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the election lacked "a genuine choice," pointing to instances of ballot box stuffing and proxy voting.
On 12 December 2016, Deputy Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov was nominated to take over from Mirziyoyev as Prime Minister. Mirziyoyev was sworn in as President on 14 December, vowing to "continue the work of my dear teacher, the great statesman Islam Karimov", while also promising "many changes in the cabinet". Aripov was confirmed as Prime Minister by parliament on the same day; a cabinet reshuffle followed on 15 December.
In the three months following the death of Islam Karimov, Mirziyoyev began to hint at reforms to longstanding policies that had held back the Uzbek economy and isolated the country internationally, so many analysts believed that Mirziyoyev would be a better President than his predecessor. On 6 March 2017, he made a state visit to Turkmenistan; it was his first foreign trip after the election.
Mirziyoyev's foreign policy currently looks better than the policy of his predecessor. Uzbekistan is practically under international isolation after the Andijan massacre in 2005 and Karimov rarely travelled. During the first 6 months, Mirziyoyev visited Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan two times, as well as Russia, China and Saudi Arabia. At the different occasions, he met the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Belarus, Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan and King of Spain. Very significant is the gradual improvement of the relations with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.