Polls have closed in a presidential election in the repressive Central Asian country of Uzbekistan that is widely expected to hand a third term to incumbent leader Shavkat Mirziyoev.
State media showed a smiling Mirziyoev, 65, casting his ballot in the capital, Tashkent, early on July 9.
Polls closed at 8 p.m. local time. As of 5 p.m., about 70 percent of registered voters had cast ballots, about 13.46 million votes, according to the Central Election Commission. The announced turnout easily surpassed the 33 percent required to validate the poll.
It was not immediately clear when official results would be announced. International observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said they will hold a news conference on July 10 to present their report on election processes.
Throughout the campaign, the three token opponents formally running against Mirziyoev have been largely silent.
Earlier this year, he oversaw a constitutional referendum that increased the presidential term from five years to seven and cleared the way for him to serve two more terms. He could remain in power until 2037.
“The victory of the incumbent president is obvious,” Uzbek political expert Farkhod Talipov told the AFP news agency ahead of the election. “All the other candidates are completely unknown and unpopular.”