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Tajiks Voting In Parliamentary Elections

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon's party is widely expected to maintain its control over the legislature.

DUSHANBE -- Parliamentary and local elections were taking place February 28 in Tajikistan.

Reports say there is little doubt that the vote will result in the People's Democratic Party of authoritarian President Emomali Rakhmon -- who has ruled the Central Asian country bordering Afghanistan for the past 17 years -- again maintaining control in the lower house of parliament, the Majlis.

The ruling party has dominated the outgoing parliament, controlling more than 50 of the 63 seats.

The other main party contenders include the Communist Party and the Islamic Renaissance Party, the only officially registered Islamic party in ex-Soviet Central Asia. Both parties held a small number of seats in the outgoing assembly.

The elections also include local polls in which the president's 23-year-old son, Rustam, is seeking a seat on the city council of the capital, Dushanbe.

The OSCE, the Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe, has deployed an observer mission of nearly 200 people to monitor the elections.

In a report ahead of the vote, the OSCE expressed concern over a lack of transparency and accountability among election officials, and cited reports by several political parties about alleged obstruction of their campaigning by the authorities.

Observers from Western countries have never recognized an election in Tajikistan as having been free and fair.

compiled from agency reports