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Tajik Politician Questions President's Election Order

Rajabi Mirzo (file photo)
Rajabi Mirzo (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- A Tajik opposition politician has challenged President Emomali Rahmon to expand on a recent order demanding that government officials avoid interfering in upcoming parliamentary elections.

Rajab Mirzo, a journalist and Democratic Party candidate in the 2005 parliamentary elections, said the administration should go further by changing the law to allow "free and transparent elections," RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Mirzo said governors and other government officials lead local branches of the ruling National Democratic Party -- which is headed by Rahmon -- and thus must choose between meeting the president's call for noninterference and supporting party interests.

Mirzo said he believes most officials will choose the latter and thereby secure their own government posts.

More than 3 million voters will vote in February to fill 63 seats for the lower chamber of the Tajik parliament.

More than 90 percent of the members of the current parliament are from the National Democratic Party, and party officials have pledged to maintain control of the parliament and even try to take more seats.

The opposition Communist Party and Islamic Renaissance Party have just five seats total in the lower house.