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Uzbek President To Reshuffle Ferghana's Leadership

Uzbek President Islam Karimov (file photo) (RFE/RL) October 19, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Independent news reports say Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov today traveled to his country's eastern Ferghana Region to address the local parliament.

A regional official who did not want to be identified told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service that the purpose of Karimov's visit is to reshuffle the top leadership of Ferghana region's administration.

The independent website suggested today that the current governor, Shermat Normatov, has fallen out of favor with Karimov. The website says Abdukhoshim Abdullaev, the mayor of the city of Marghilan, is a leading contender to take over from Normatov.

Karimov on October 13 dismissed the governor of neighboring Andijon Region, blaming him for a popular uprising and security crackdown that officially claimed 187 lives.

Addressing Andijon lawmakers, Karimov accused the outgoing Andijon governor, Saydullo Begaliev, of turning a blind eye on the population's needs.

Uzbek authorities claim the unrest was organized by foreign-funded religious fundamentalist groups.

Rights groups have challenged the official account of events and accuse government troops of killing hundreds of unarmed demonstrators.

The European Union, United Nations, and United States have all urged Uzbek authorities to allow an independent investigation of the events in Andijon.