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Turkmenistan Election Called Valid


http://gdb.rferl.org/B171B9DB-0BA7-43A6-8BDA-E5B80027A439_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/B171B9DB-0BA7-43A6-8BDA-E5B80027A439_mw800_mh600.jpg 20 December 2004 -- Authorities in Turkmenistan have declared valid the elections to the country's mainly symbolic parliament.

Following news reports of sparsely attended polling stations in the capital Ashgabat, officials said nearly 77 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots in the 19 December election for 50 seats in the Mejilis single-chamber parliament.

The reported turnout was down from the 1999 official turnout of 99 percent.

Opposition parties were excluded from the voting, as all candidates were from the party loyal to President Saparmurat Niyazov.

Foreign observers were not allowed to monitor the polling for the largely powerless legislature.

Critics of the Niyazov regime denounced the vote as a sham, but Turkmen officials said the vote was held in compliance with international norms and Turkmenistan's election law.

(AP/AFP/dpa/Reuters)

For in-depth information about the elections, including details about the candidates and the parties, see Turkmenistan Votes 2004
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