TASHKENT, December 27, 2009 -- Uzbekistan is holding a parliamentary election in which four parties -- all of whom support the rule of President Islam Karimov -- are competing.
Some 17 million eligible voters will be able to cast ballots December 27 to elect the new 150-seat Oliy Majlis lower chamber of parliament.
The contenders include the Liberal Democratic Party, the People's Democratic Party Of Uzbekistan, the National Revival Party "Milly Tiklanish," and the Social Democratic Party "Adolat."
All the parties hold seats in the current legislature and have never publicly criticized the government of Karimov, who has ruled the Central Asian country with one of the world's most repressive regimes since Uzbekistan gained independence from the Soviet Union nearly 20 years ago.
Fifteen seats are reserved for the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan.
There are no officially registered opposition parties in Uzbekistan, and the country has never held an election considered to have been free and fair by Western monitors.
The election monitoring arm of the OSCE, the Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe, has declined to send an observer mission to monitor this election, saying that none of its recommendations offered after previous votes have been implemented.
The OSCE said in a pre-election report that Uzbekistan's "current political spectrum does not offer the electorate a genuine choice between competing political alternatives."