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Tajik Islamic Party Withdraws From By-Election

Behind closed doors: Tajik polling station in the March 2010 elections.
Behind closed doors: Tajik polling station in the March 2010 elections.
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Party has withdrawn its candidate for a by-election because its representatives have not been included in constituency election commissions, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The May 15 by-election for Dushanbe's Sino district is to fill a seat in the lower chamber of parliament that fell vacant last month when incumbent Shermahmad Shohiyon was appointed to head Tajikistan's Central Electoral Commission.

Islamic Renaissance Party member Sayid Ibrohim Nazar was registered as a candidate on April 15.

At that time, the party asked the district election commission to include its representatives in lower-level commissions at individual polling stations.

Abdullo Habibov, head of the Sino district election commission, confirmed the receipt of the party's request. He said the commission discussed it with legal advisers and did not find any obligation to comply.

Islamic Renaissance Party spokesman Hikmatullo Sayfullozoda told RFE/RL that the most important place during an election is the polling station, where all votes are counted and tabulated, and there's no point in taking part if party representatives are unable to participate in that process at every single polling station.

Usmon Soleh, public-relations head for the ruling National Democratic Party of Tajikistan, said during the last elections, some parties did not even deploy monitors at polling stations. He asked rhetorically how those parties could demand representation on local election commissions.

The Majlisi Namoyandagon -- the lower chamber of parliament -- consists of 63 deputies elected for a five-year term. Twenty-two seats are divided among parties that gain more than 5 percent of the vote, and the remaining 41 deputies are elected from single-mandate constituencies.