People gather along the road to watch the funeral procession of President Islam Karimov in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, early Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Umida Akhmedova)
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Uzbekistan bade farewell to President Islam Karimov at a high-security funeral Saturday, after his death plunged the country into the greatest period of uncertainty in its post-Soviet history with no clear successor to the iron-fisted ruler.Karimov, 78, was pronounced dead late Friday after he suffered a stroke last weekend and fell into a coma, authorities said, following days of speculation that officials were delaying making his death public.The Islamic funeral for the strongman -- who dominated the ex-Soviet nation for some 27 years -- was being held in his home city of Samarkand, southwestern Uzbekistan, Saturday and the country will begin three days of mourning.Uzbekistan has never held elections deemed free and fair by international monitors, and Karimov won his fifth terms in office last March with 90 percent of the vote.Despite Karimov's brutal record, Uzbekistan still receives U.S. aid and both Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian leader Vladimir Putin have jetted in for talks over the past year.
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