Uzbek leader says he will curb power of state security service

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TASHKENT (Reuters) – Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Friday he would reform the Central Asian nation’s state security service, adding that its power had become excessive under his predecessor Islam Karimov.

The National Security Service (NSS), the local successor to the Soviet KGB, wielded sweeping powers under Karimov who died in September 2016 after a quarter century-long rule criticised for systematic abuses of human rights.

Rustam Inoyatov, NSS chairman since 1995, is the only Karimov-era senior security official still in his post, one year into Mirziyoyev’s presidency.

Speaking to parliament on Friday, Mirziyoyev accused security bodies of rights abuses and called for deep reforms.

“To strengthen national statehood, sovereignty, peace and stability of the people … it is time to reform the work of the National Security Service,” he said, asking MPs to draft new legislation on law enforcement agencies.

“At the moment, the National Security Service bases its work on a statute passed by the government 26 years ago. The fact that this statute has remained untouched for a quarter of a century and that every problem was regarded as a threat to national security has led to a groundless expansion of this agency’s powers.”

(Reporting by Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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