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Near Certain Re-election of President in Uzbekistan

A woman walks past an election board of Uzbekistan's President and presidential candidate Islam Karimov near a polling station in Tashkent, March 29, 2015.

Voting is under way in Uzbekistan Sunday where voters are almost certain to return President Islam Karimov to a fourth term. He has ruled the country for a quarter-century.

Three other candidates are also vying for the presidency, but those candidates have effectively campaigned for strongman Karimov, calling him "the best candidate." There is no opposition in the impoverished state.

Under Uzbekistan's constitution, the presidency is limited to two consecutive terms. After the last election, the 77-year-old incumbent orchestrated an amendment to the constitution reducing presidential terms from seven to five years.

International monitors said Uzbek officials have justified Karimov's decision to continue to run for office by pointing out that terms of a different length can not be considered consecutive.

Scores of international observers have descended on the central Asian state to monitor the voting. Uzbekistan has never held an election the West has considered free and fair.

Human Rights Watch described Uzbekistan's human rights record as "atrocious." The rights group has urged the U.S. and the European Union to reconsider its ties with Uzbekistan, but the strategically located country has provided support in the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report came from AFP and Reuters.