FILE PHOTO: Uzbek president Shavkat Mirziyoyev attends a news conference with his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Tashkent, Uzbekistan April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Mukhtar Kholdorbekov//File Photo

After violent protests in Central Asian Uzbekistan, President Shawkat Mirsijoyev has shown that he is willing to negotiate to calm the situation. In the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in the west, there have been riots since Friday because people were angry about plans for constitutional reforms that no longer explicitly mentioned Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty.

It was a rare protest in the authoritarian ex-Soviet republic, which borders Kazakhstan and Afghanistan, among other places.

President Mirziyoyev then traveled to Karakalpakstan’s capital Nukus on Saturday. According to the Uzbek media, he later informed his spokesman that the relevant paragraphs of the constitution should be retained. It later became known that Mirsiyoyev declared a month-long state of emergency in Karakalpakstan.

Karakalpakstan is home to, among others, the Karakalpak ethnic minority.

After the death of dictator Islam Karimov in 2016, Mirsiyoev opened Uzbekistan internationally. After his re-election last fall, he promised to promote a “free civil society”.