Sarvarbek Abdullaev

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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, who came to power in 2016, is committed to strengthen the role of governors in Uzbekistan. Before that, their influence was decreasing year by year, but now they have are being given more power. This, of course, increased their responsibility. They were asked to start working more efficiently. Unfortunately, not all governors were equally effective. In order to prevent such situations, the issue of people’s election of governors came forward. The article will discuss about why governors do not work effectively and what results the election of people will bring.                                                                                                             

Current legislation

  According to the current legislation, the governors of the regions and the city of Tashkent are appointed and dismissed by the President of Uzbekistan.

Candidates for the mayor of the region and the city of Tashkent are submitted by the President of Uzbekistan to the Council of People’s Deputies of the region and the city of Tashkent for approval after consultations with each of the party groups in the respective Councils of People’s Deputies.

 Governors of regions, districts, and cities are appointed and approved from among the deputies of the relevant Council of People’s Deputies.

What does election of governors give us?

1. Governors who care about the people’s interests.

Governors, being elected by the people, start to solve problems of people. Undoubtedly, their current mission is also to lead the reforms in their region, but since they were not directly elected by the people, we do not see major positive changes in the regions. The election of governors by the people will put an end to situations like the Andijan district governor’s attitude towards the population. When the mayor of Andijan district receives citizens, he took a place on the net of the porch, and the citizens stand 4-5 meters away from the mayor even if there is a place in front of him, reminding of the medieval Bukhara and Khiva khans. 

In addition, this issue is also noteworthy. Tura Bobolov, the governor of Surkhondarya region, insulted the Angor district prosecutor in December of last year, and said that he will solve this case at the level of the Prosecutor General, because the prosecutor called the businessman to be investigated based on his professional duties. In fact, according to Article 17 of the Law about Prosecution, district and city prosecutors are accountable to the senior prosecutor and the Prosecutor General. Not in front of the regional governor.

 As information, after these events, the head of the Presidential Administration, Sardor Umrzakov, at the meeting on September 27, dismissed the mayor of Andijan district and Tora Bobolov was fined.

2. Reforms to win elections.

The elected governors try to fulfill their duties completely to be elected for the next term. If there are no positive changes in cities, the local people will no longer elect them. Governors will have to communicate with the people, listen to their problems and start looking for a solution. For them, the repair of schools and hospitals, the smoothness of internal roads and other issues become important. Because these are the most necessary infrastructures for the people. Citizens will elect another governor instead of one who failed to carry out effective reforms.

3. Transparency (accountability for budget funds and transparency).

As the governors are elected by the people, at the end of each calendar year, they are informed about wherethe budget funds were spent, how much funds were used for which social object, what tenders were held to save funds, and what else could be built for the benefit of the people with the remaining money. 

As an example, the local government spent 10 billion sums on the reconstruction of the old asphalt road. Is this good? Of course. The old asphalt will be replaced by a new one. But it might not be good as it seems. What if there are roads in this area that are not paved at all, roads which are muddy in winter and dusty in summer? Which one of these roads will be the priority?

That is, it is not a matter of hakims actually spending the money allocated to them, it is a matter of spending them correctly. Indeed, they will be accountable for what was spent, but whether it was spent for the most important purposes or not, that is the question. If they are accountable to the people and elected by them, at the end of the year they will be asked why they repaired the old asphalt road instead of the muddy road. This is, of course, an example to show the problem. Such problems are common in every section of daily-life.

Systems in Eastern Asia. Japan and South Korea.

Japan and South Korea might be good for consideration, because they are also centralized countries as Uzbekistan.

In Japan, local mayors are directly elected by the people for 4 years. Even former Minister of Education Hiroshi Hase participated in the spring elections 2022 in order to be mayor of Ishikawa. He won the public’s trust and was elected mayor. That is, just because he was a former minister and had experience, he was not directly appointed as the governor. The local people also voted him based on his campaign.

South Korea has a similar system to Japan. Local provincial governors are also elected by local people for 4 years. It can be seen from this table that there is no specific limit on how many candidates can participate in the elections for local governments in South Korea. 5 candidates in the capital Seoul, 3 candidates in Busan, and 4 candidates in Incheon put forward their candidacy in the summer election of 2022/

Potential problems.

Disagreement between local governors and central government.

All the states that have existed in the territory of Uzbekistan until now based on a strong central government. If the governors are directly elected by the people, there may be a risk of disagreement between them and the central government. However, I personally do not see this as a problem that will appear in the near future.

 A local mayor can refuse to obey the central government, claiming that he is elected by the people, but this can be regulated legally. That is, although the governors are elected by the people, they remain stay accountable to the central government and fulfill its legal requirements, but the governor will be given more freedom. If he commits serious mistakes and shortcomings in his work, the government reserves the right to dismiss him. In this case, it might sound like there is no point in their election if government will have a right to dismiss governors, but it is not.

First of all, this system will be built on trust, whether we like it or not. Both sides, Central government and local governors will have to help each other as much as possible and stick together for the benefit of the people. And the most important thing is that the local administrations and the central government should work equally transparently. In addition, the Central government officials cannot dismiss the local mayor simply because they “do not like him/her”. Because residents know very well how their governor works.

A richer candidate – governor

 In ancient Rome, during the elections for the senate, the candidates used to give gifts to people to win the election. Although, 2 thousand years have passed, this method is still used in some countries. This way to win election was also used in the Parliamentary elections in our country. In the 2019 Deputy elections, one of the candidates for the Tashkent city council deputy tried to sway the voters to his side with flour and oil, but this method “didn’t go far”. Because such an action is contrary to Article 44 of the Law on Elections.

There may be an effort to use such methods in the struggle for power, but such methods are to be legally prohibited. We will return to the case of giving oil to the citizens to win the same parliamentary election. Because such methods were prohibited by law, that candidate was brought to administrative responsibility. A similar system can certainly be introduced in power elections. It is important that the relevant bodies and the Central Election Commission are able to control the election campaign in the regions.


The above are the issues I have seen and they might be more than expected. However, I personally believe that it is possible to analyze all potential problems and find out their solutions by forming a team of strong lawyers, politicians and economists. It definitely needs time and a strong team of experts. In any case, such reforms aimed at changing the system should be thoroughly analyzed and then put into practice. Then, this system will definitely begin to bear its fruit.

Cite as:  Sarvarbek Abdullaev, “Electing governors. Potential legal problems, solutions and benefits of it”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 16.10.2022.