Karimov Re-elected by 88% of Voters

Uzbek President Islam Karimov has won another seven-year term with 88.1 percent of the votes, according to returns released by the Central Election Commission.

Karimov faced three other contenders in the vote Sunday, but all of them publicly supported him. The election-monitoring arm of the OSCE said the election failed to meet an array of democratic standards.

"In the context of democratic development, it is notable that this time there were more candidates. ... But since all candidates in the present election publicly endorsed the incumbent, the electorate was deprived of a genuine choice," Walter Siegl, the OSCE's ambassador to Uzbekistan, said in a statement.

In contrast, the Russia-dominated observer mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States hailed Sunday's vote. "It was a major factor in further democratization of social life in Uzbekistan," mission head Sergei Lebedev said, Itar-Tass reported.

President Vladimir Putin quickly called Karimov to congratulate him on his victory Monday, and the two leaders hailed the "spirit of alliance and partnership" in the bilateral ties, the Kremlin said.

Karimov, 69, came to lead Uzbekistan as the Communist Party boss in 1989 in what was then a Soviet republic and Soviet industry's main cotton supplier. He was elected president in 1991 and again in 1999 -- and had his term extended twice, once through the parliament and again in a referendum.