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MOSCOW — The president of Uzbekistan has backed off proposed constitutional changes that would have prevented the Karakalpakstan region from holding a referendum on splitting away from the country.

A large protest against the proposed changes broke out Friday in the regions capital, Nuku. Demonstrators reportedly tried to seize government buildings and clashed with police.

Karakalpakstan is a sprawling, mostly desert region in northwest Uzbekistan.

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President Shavkat Mirziyoyev met regional lawmakers the day after the unrest and later announced that a proposed new constitution would retain the region’s right to seek secession. He also imposed a nighttime curfew for the region lasting until Aug. 2.

No unrest took place during the first night of the curfew, Russian news agency Tass quoted a National Guard spokesperson as saying.