01/20/2017, 17.53
UZBEKISTAN
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Shavkat Mirzyaev changes course, appoints new government officials

After the death of President Islam Karimov, the new leader picks his new team to build a strong cabinet, seemingly more moderate than previous ones.

Tashkent (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Uzbekistan’s new president, Shavkat Mirzyaev, who was elected on 14 December 14 last year with 88.61 per cent of the vote, has started to name his cabinet, bringing back many of his former colleagues.

After the death of his predecessor, Islam Karimov, the new head of state seems determined to reshuffle the cabinet whilst avoiding political and administrative disruptions.

Mirziyaev’s first new high-level appointment is Abdulla Aripov as prime minister. The latter was deputy prime minister for ten years before he fell out of Karimov’s good graces in 2012 and was sacked over allegations of corruption.

The outgoing deputy prime minister, Rustam Azimov – who enjoyed close personal relations with the late Islam Karimov, and was well known inside and outside Uzbekistan – did not get the post of prime minister as some expected.

Azimov, who also lost his job as minister of finance, was given the post of deputy prime minister for macroeconomic development and foreign investments.

After gaining independence from the USSR in 1991, Uzbekistan began a process of privatisation that was slower and less aggressive than in neighbouring Kazakhstan.

Unlike the latter, Uzbekistan has had fewer oligarchs. One of them is Salim Abduvaliev, known in Uzbekistani as ‘Salimboy’ (Salim the rich), his proven ability to influence the decisions of government officials viewed with disapproval by politicians.

Now, under Mirzyaev, "Salimboy" will become deputy president of the National Olympic Committee.

Uzbekistan’s security structure is undergoing changes at the top as well. The new president has asked several former ministers to join the new government.

One of them is Zokirjon Almatov, Interior minister during 1991–2005, who will now head a newly established commission to fight corruption.

Bakhodir Marlyubov, who replaced Almatov as Interior ministry between 2006 and 2013, will now head the ministry’s academy.

Mirzyaev, who earlier this month criticised all top departments officials for their ineffectiveness, plans a series of internal reforms.

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