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State of emergency introduced in Uzbekistan

CALM has been restored in Uzbekistan, authorities said today after a number of fatalities during mass protests against proposed constitutional changes over the weekend. 

A month-long state of emergency has been introduced after the demonstrations caused serious unrest over the autonomous status of Karakalpakstan.

The region, home to some two million of Uzbekistan’s 32 million population, is currently seen as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan that has the right to secede by holding a referendum. 

But the new proposed constitution does not recognise Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty or right of succession prompting thousands to take to the streets. 

Security forces were mobilised to contain the demonstrations with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev accusing protesters of “destructive actions” including arson and attacks on police. 

“Unfortunately, there are fatalities among civilians and law enforcement officers,” Mr Mirziyoyev said during a speech in Karakalpakstan.

It is unclear how many people have been killed but exiled opposition politician Pulat Ahunov said that five were dead. Other reports suggest that dozens more died as a result of the clampdown. 

Thousands were hospitalised in Nukus, the capital of Karakalpakstan, according to regional health chief Sultanbek Ziyayev.

Mr Ahonov said that while the situation had stabilised, there was a danger of ethnic clashes between Uzbeks and Karakalpaks.

“The situation can totally spin out of control. It will not be about the status of Karakalpakstan, it will be about a conflict between the Karakalpaks and the Uzbeks. It is the most dangerous thing,” he warned. 

Mr Mirziyoyev travelled to the region on Saturday and met with local lawmakers promising to drop the changes in Karakalpakstan’s status from the proposed constitutional changes. 

His press secretary Sherzod Asadov said it was necessary to “ensure the safety of citizens, protect their rights and freedoms [and] restore law and order” in the territory.

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