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OSCE: Tajik Elections Fall Short Of Standards

  • Bruce Pannier

http://gdb.rferl.org/B3115D5F-A199-4214-8FBD-14BA89607526_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/B3115D5F-A199-4214-8FBD-14BA89607526_mw800_mh600.jpg Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov (file photo) Prague, 28 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said today that parliamentary elections held in Tajikistan yesterday fell short of international standards.

OSCE observer mission head Peter Eicher provided the organization's preliminary assessment of the Tajik parliamentary elections at a news conference in Dushanbe on 28 February.

"The 27 February elections in Tajikistan failed to meet many key OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections," Eicher said. "Despite some positive aspects of the election process, including a few elements that showed improvement over previous elections, large-scale irregularities were evident, particularly on election day," Eicher said.

Among the irregularities Eicher listed were a failure to include representatives of opposition parties in all district election commissions and the inclusion of many members of the ruling party in senior positions in those district election commissions. Eicher said this undermined confidence in the election process. Eicher also said the campaigning process seemed to be under the control of these election officials.
"The 27 February elections in Tajikistan failed to meet many key OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections. Despite some positive aspects of the election process, including a few elements that showed improvement over previous elections, large-scale irregularities were evident, particularly on election day."


However, Vladimir Rushailo, the CIS executive secretary, was also in Dushanbe where CIS observers monitored the election. Rushailo gave a lukewarm assessment of the poll, and failed to declare it free and fair. "The presence of international and local observers testifies to the aspirations of the authorities to hold free and fair elections in the Republic of Tajikistan," Rushailo said.

Leaders from many opposition parties echoed Eicher's criticisms. Rahmatullo Zoirov, the leader of the opposition Social-Democrat Party, complained about the elections in comments to RFE/RL's Tajik Service on 27 February. "Today, our election representatives received many complaints of election violations," Zoirov said. "I had hoped that these elections, compared to those held in 2000, would be more fair and have less violations, but now the number of violations, compared with the 2000 [elections] are more. The head of the [polling station in] the Sino District [of Dushanbe,] who distributed the ballots to people, showed them who to vote for."

Meanwhile, four of the five opposition parties competing in the elections signed a petition on 28 February complaining about widespread violations and calling for the election to be declared invalid.

The Central Election Commission's reported turnout figure of 88 percent was called "improbable" by the OSCE's Eicher.

The chairman of Tajikistan's Central Election Commission, Mirzoali Boltuyev, said on 28 February that only the ruling People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan, the Islamic Renaissance Party, and Communist Party have won seats in parliament thus far. Boltuyev said the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan took some 80 percent of the votes.

The lower house of parliament, or Majlisi Namoyandagon, consists of 63 seats. Forty-one of these seats were available through voting in single-mandate districts. The remaining 22 seats are awarded by party lists proportionally to those parties that receive at least 5 percent of the votes.

(RFE/RL's Tajik Service contributed to this report.)
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