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Preliminary Tajik Election Results Expected Today

28 February 2005 -- First preliminary results are expected today from Tajikistan's parliamentary elections.

A Central Election Commission official told RFE/RL this morning that more than 92 percent of eligible voters cast ballots yesterday in Tajikistan's second parliamentary elections since its civil war in the 1990s.

Nearly 230 candidates were in the running for 63 seats in the Majlisi Namoyandagon, or lower house of parliament.

The ruling People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan -- which already dominates parliament -- was expected to do well. Its leader and Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov yesterday praised the electoral process in his country.

"I think [the current election process] is much more transparent than the previous election. I would not compare elections in our society to those in the United States and the West. I do not deny our shortcomings. We are just at the starting point of the creation of a democratic, secular country with the rule of law," Rakhmonov said.

Opposition parties spoke of widespread irregularities.

A deputy party chairman of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Muhiddin Kabiri, said his party's election observers were barred from polling stations across the country.

Rahmatullo Zoirov, the leader of the opposition Socialist Democratic Party, said his party's observers had recorded "a vast number of violations" during yesterday's vote that he said would be made public tomorrow.

The OSCE sent 130 observers to monitor the poll. It is expected to release its assessment later today.