9 Mar 2023 16:57

Uzbek parliamentarians propose referendum on new constitution

TASHKENT. March 9 (Interfax) - A referendum on a new Uzbek constitution, rather than amendments to the current one, has been proposed at a meeting of the Uzbek parliament's lower house, the Legislative Chamber, on Thursday.

"There is every reason today to adopt a bill on a new edition of the constitution. Therefore, we propose that the constitutional bill be called 'On the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan', rather than 'On Amending and Augmenting the Constitution'," Legislative Chamber member, Constitutional Commission member Jahongir Shirinov said.

He noted plans to add 27 articles to the current constitution, thus increasing their number from 128 to 155.

"The fundamental law of the republic will be updated 65%. In the end, our constitution will be fully renewed, both by content and by form," Shirinov said.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev held consultations with both parliament chambers and heads of the Supreme Court on Monday to discuss the final edition of the bill on constitutional amendments.

It was said at the consultations that lawmakers had closely studied over 200,000 proposals from the public, alongside international practices, and leading specialists and experts in various fields have been drawn into the process. After several months of analysis, a final edition of the bill on constitutional amendments and augmentation was prepared.

As reported earlier, the bill will be discussed by the Constitutional Court, which will present its conclusions.

In December 2021, Mirziyoyev came up with the initiative to change the country's constitution. The bill on constitutional amendments envisages more than 200 changes encompassing 64 articles of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan. In particular, it stipulates a prolongation of the presidential term from five to seven years, abolition of the death sentence and a ban on extradition of any Uzbek citizen to a foreign country.

The bill also reflects rules that would govern any further improving of the foundations of state authority, strengthening the mandate of the parliament, encouraging citizens to actively participate in the lawmaking process.

However, the draft bill did not refer to any independent status of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous constituent part of Uzbekistan, which sparked public unrest in the country in early July 2022. According to official data, 21 people were killed and another 274 were injured in mass riots. The authorities then detained 516 people, including foreign nationals. After that, the Uzbek parliament moved to preserve the sovereign status of Karakalpakstan.

In early October 2022, Mirziyoyev suggested that the country should be in no hurry to pass the amendments but reach an agreement on all the proposed changes.

In accordance with the Uzbek referendum law, the voting day may be on any date within a range from 1.5 to 3 months of the publication of relevant referendum resolutions issued by both chambers of the Uzbek parliament.

The constitution of Uzbekistan was adopted on December 8, 1992, at a session of the country's Supreme Council. The constitution has since been amended 15 times.