Uzbekistan president, Islam Karimov, is dead, the state television has said; adding that the funeral will be held on Saturday.
Karimov’s daughter Lola said earlier this week that the 78-year-old had suffered a brain haemorrhage, but the government had remained silent, making its first announcement on Friday following days of unofficial report that Karimov was critically ill or even dead.
“Dear compatriots, it is with a heavy heart that we inform you that the health of our President has sharply deteriorated in the past 24 hours to reach a critical state, according to the doctors,” the statement said.
The Reuters news agency said on Friday that three diplomatic sources had told it Karimov was dead and a further government announcement would come on Friday that would also name the head of the commission in charge of organising the funeral.
Uzbekistan on Thursday celebrated its independence day and it has been widely assumed that if the government was to make an announcement on his condition, it would not break the news until after the festivities.
Karimov took power in 1989.
Born on January30, 1938, Karimov was raised in an orphanage in Samarkand, and ascended the Communist party ranks to become head of Soviet Uzbekistan, and he continued as leader after the collapse of the USSR two years later in 1991.