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Political Novice Announces Run For Uzbek Presidency --> All five registered political parties in Uzbekistan support incumbent President Islam Karimov (file photo) (AFP) September 21, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- An Uzbek political novice, Akbar Aliev, has announced his intention to run in the country's presidential elections.

The 64-year-old Aliev contacted RFE/RL's Uzbek Service to declare his intentions. Aliev described himself as a "scientist, poet, sociologist, philosopher, historian, and specialist in literature."

Aliev is a native of the southern Qashqadaryo Province. He is a graduate of the Tashkent University of World Languages. He told RFE/RL that he did doctorate research on American author Mark Twain's writings. Aliev said he has never been involved in politics and is not associated with any political group or party.

In an open letter published on several websites, Aliev says incumbent President Islam Karimov should not stay in office for another term. He says any attempt to keep Karimov in the post will be a "betrayal of the country, its constitution, social justice, development, democracy, human rights, and statehood."

Aliev will have to collect 300 signatures from members of an initiative group that should nominate him as a presidential candidate, as current legislation requires. He is also required to collect the signatures of 5 percent of Uzbekistan's eligible voters, or some 800,000 people.

The presidential election will be held on December 23. It is not clear whether Islam Karimov, who has ruled the country since 1989, will seek another term. Under the current constitution, he is not eligible to do so. Several others have announced that they will run for president. So far, no candidate has been registered with the Central Election Committee.

There are five registered political parties in Uzbekistan. They have all publicly supported Karimov. Earlier this week, CEC officials encouraged the parties to select their candidates for president.

In the last elections, in January 2000, the alternative candidate from the People's Democratic Party said that he voted for Karimov. Observers said his candidacy, as well as the election in general, was staged by Uzbek authorities to try to demonstrate to foreign observers that elections had been held in accordance with international democratic standards.

None of Uzbekistan's parliamentary or presidential elections has been recognized as fair and free by Western election observers.

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