Uzbek PM leads national celebration; president still ill

AP News
Posted: Aug 31, 2016 6:02 AM
Uzbek PM leads national celebration; president still ill

MOSCOW (AP) — Uzbekistan's prime minister led the nation's Independence Day celebration Wednesday in the capital of Tashkent as President Islam Karimov remained hospitalized.

The government announced Sunday that the 78-year-old Karimov had been hospitalized and his daughter said Monday that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage.

Karimov's youngest daughter Lola thanked compatriots for well-wishes sent to her father in a statement posted Wednesday on Instagram and Facebook.

The main Independence Day concert has been cancelled, Tashkent-based journalist Alexei Volosevich told The Associated Press on Wednesday, citing police officers. Volosevich said the security presence in Tashkent appeared to be significantly lower than typical for events featuring the president.

Uzbekistan marks its Independence Day on Sept. 1.

Karimov has run an authoritarian regime in this Central Asian nation since 1989, harshly repressing any opposition and cultivating no apparent successor.

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Russian news agencies on Wednesday said the Independence Day celebration was led by Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyayev, who has been rumored as a possible successor.

The uncertainty over Karimov's health raises concerns that Uzbekistan could face prolonged in-fighting among clans over leadership claims, something Islamic radicals could exploit.