Turkish PM extends coldolences for Uzbekistan leader Karimov
AA photoTurkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım offered condolences over the death of Uzbek President Islam Karimov as media reports contradicted each other on the ill leader’s health condition as of late Sept. 2.
“Uzbek President Islam Karimov has passed away. May God’s mercy be upon him, as the Turkish Republic we are sharing the pain and sorrow of the Uzbek people,” Yıldırım said, speaking in a televised meeting with his cabinet.
Reuters cited three diplomatic sources as saying that Karimov had died. “Yes, he has died,” one of the diplomatic sources told Reuters when asked about Karimov’s condition.
The Uzbek government did not immediately confirm the reports. Earlier on Sept. 2 it said the health of Karimov, who has been in hospital since Aug. 27, had sharply deteriorated.
“Dear compatriots, it is with a very heavy heart that we inform you that yesterday the condition of our president deteriorated sharply and, according to doctors, it is evaluated as critical,” the government statement posted on a government website said earlier on Sept. 2.
The terse announcement - also carried by state newspapers and television - confirmed officially for the first time that Karimov, 78, suffered a stroke on Aug. 27.
Karimov died after suffering a stroke at the age of 78, leaving no obvious successor to take over, Russia’s Interfax News Agency quoted an official Uzbekistan statement as saying on Sept. 2. However, the agency later pulled the report back.
Long criticized by the West and human rights groups for his authoritarian style of leadership, Karimov had ruled Uzbekistan since 1989, first as the head of the local Communist Party and then as president of the newly independent republic from 1991.
Karimov did not designate a successor and analysts say the transition of power is likely to be decided behind closed doors by a small group of senior officials and family members.
If they fail to agree on a compromise, however, open confrontation could destabilize the nation of 32 million that has become a target for Islamist militants.
The veteran leader’s youngest daughter Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva on Aug. 29 announced on social media that he was in “stable” condition but in intensive care after a cerebral hemorrhage, before hinting two days later that he was making a recovery.
Opposition outlet Fergana news agency reported on Sept. 1 that preparations were underway for Karimov’s funeral in his hometown of Samarkand, with part of the city center cordoned off and the streets being cleaned.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Sept. 2 that Moscow had “no news” on Karimov’s possible death.