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Dissidents like Mohammad Solih (in file photo) were not allowed to compete in these Uzbek elections 27 December 2004 -- Election officials from Uzbekistan and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) said today a parliamentary poll in the Central Asian country yesterday was held in accordance with international standards despite strict limits on political participation.

Five parties were contesting seats in the lower house of parliament, or Oliy Majlis -- yet none of the country's four leading opposition parties were allowed to participate.

Uzbek Central Election Commission spokesman Sherzod Kudratkhodzhaev said today that parliamentary balloting was held in conformity with the country's laws and was "open and honest."

Kudratkhodzhaev estimated turnout at 85 percent of the country's nearly 15 million eligible voters.

Vladimir Rushailo, head of a 78-member poll observation mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States, said the poll was "legitimate, free, and transparent."

Otanazar Aripov of the Erk Democratic Party was quoted today as saying he believes the election was a crime against the Uzbek people. Opposition parties also questioned the high turnout figure.

Results are expected later today.

'No Ukraines'

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said yesterday that he will not tolerate what he called "revolutions" of the type that has gripped Ukraine since its fraudulent late-November presidential vote.

After casting his vote in the capital Tashkent, Karimov criticized Europe's leading election monitor for saying yesterday's vote was flawed.

Karimov said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could not have the exclusive right to assess elections. "Today the OSCE cannot be exclusive or dominating on the [election-monitoring] issue. The OSCE represents Europe, as you know. And we Central Asian countries joined the OSCE only because we were post-Soviet republics," Karimov said.

The OSCE sent a limited mission of around 20 observers to monitor the poll, which it has already criticized for lacking fairness.

Amendments to the Uzbek Constitution in 2002 prescribed a change to the structure of the legislature. They include replacing the country's 250-seat unicameral parliament with a bicameral legislature in which the upper house has 100 seats and the lower house has 120 seats.

(RFE/RL/Reuters)

[For RFE/RL background and analysis of the Uzbek parliamentary electinos, see our dedicated "Uzbekistan Votes 2004" webpage.]
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