Uzbekistan prepares to bury veteran leader Karimov

Reuters

Posted at Sep 03 2016 12:44 PM

TASHKENT - Thousands of Uzbeks lined up along Tashkent's main thoroughfare at dawn on Saturday as President Islam Karimov's funeral cortege made its way through the city.

Karimov, who died on Friday at the age of 78 after suffering a stroke, will be buried later on Saturday in his hometown of Samarkand, about 300 km (185 miles) southwest of the capital.

The veteran leader has run the Central Asian nation since 1989 and nearly half of Uzbekistan's 32 million citizens were born while he was in power.

Many mourners held flowers, mostly red roses, which they laid on the road as the funeral train, which set out at 6 a.m. (0100 GMT) drove by on its way to the airport.

Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev has been designated mourner-in-chief at Karimov's funeral, which is seen as a strong hint he might become the next president.