Uzbekistan President, Islam Karimov has died at the age of 78 from a stroke. The country’s government and parliament confirmed the death on Friday, September 2.
Karimov’s funeral will be taking place on Saturday, September 3 at his hometown, Samarkand. His potential successor, Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev, will be overseeing the funeral.
Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim was the first foreign leader to issue condolences over Karimov’s death. Russian President Vladimir Putin also expressed his condolences, describing the late leader as a statesman “who had contributed to the security and stability of Central Asia”.
Karimov was the first, and so far the only, president of Uzbekistan. Having ruled the country for 27 years, Karimov had long been criticized by the West and various organizations for human rights abuses, with the United Nation describing the use of torture under his leadership as “systematic”.
Karimov had not named any potential successor during his presidency, and analysts believe his replacement will be chosen privately behind the doors with family members and senior political figures.
Bordering Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan is the most populous country in Central Asia with over 30 million people.
Boko Haram has released a video showing fifty of the Chibok schoolgirls who were kidnapped two years ago.
The video shows a man standing in front of the girls wearing a face mask and a turban and armed with a gun, demanding the Nigerian government for the release of Boko Haram fighters in return for the Chibok captives. “They should know that their children are still in our hands,” says the fighter in the video, which was posted on YouTube. “Don’t waste time – release our members in custody and we will release the girls.”
Bring Back Our Girls spokesman Abubakar Abdullahi confirmed that up to 10 girls from the video were indeed from Chibok.
In April 2014, 276 schoolchildren were taken from their dormitories at the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. 57 of them escaped, while 217 are still missing.
Boko Haram has been active for seven years in north-eastern Nigeria, and the group’s insurgency has led to the deaths of over 20,000 people and displaced over 2.3 million people.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to take down Boko Haram when he won the elections in 2015. Buhari said in December 2015 that Nigeria has “technically won the war” against Boko Haram after the army took back large amounts of territory from the militant group. However, the government has yet to find the schoolgirls, suggesting the group’s lingering presence in the region.