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Uzbek President Islam Karimov (file photo) (epa)
October 20, 2006 -- Reports suggest slow economic progress is the main official reason behind Uzbek President Islam Karimov's decision to sack Ferghana Region Governor Shermat Normatov.
Uzbekistan's official UzA news agency says Karimov, in his October 19 address to the local parliament, lamented the eastern region's economic hardships before announcing his decision to dismiss Normatov.
The Uzbek leader reportedly criticized the outgoing governor for failing to create new jobs, attract foreign investors, or meet cotton-output targets.
Karimov last week also cited economic reasons when he sacked the governor of neighboring Andijon Region, Saydullo Begaliev.
Both regions are part of the larger Ferghana Valley, an area that spans the territories of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, and that regional governments portray as a hotbed of religious extremism.
Uzbek security forces last year crushed a popular uprising in the city of Andijon, killing hundreds of unarmed civilians, according to independent accounts.