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Tajik Election Lacked A 'Real Choice'

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (right) at a polling station during presidential elections in Dushanbe on November 6.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon (right) at a polling station during presidential elections in Dushanbe on November 6.
A group of international observers said on November 7 that Tajikistan's presidential election, won in a landslide by incumbent President Emomali Rahmon, lacked pluralism and genuine choice.

Tajikistan's Central Election Commission earlier in the day announced that Rahmon, 61, had won a new seven-year term in the November 6 election, with 83.6 percent of the vote.

Andreas Baker, presidential adviser to the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly and an OSCE election observer in Dushanbe, said that "while quiet and peaceful, this was an election without a real choice."

In an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Baker criticized Rahmon for taking advantage of his incumbency.

"While there was extensive state media coverage of the official activities of the incumbent president, that meant that he had a significant advantage throughout the campaign," Baker said.

Rahmon ran against five little-known and largely loyal candidates after his only serious rival, Oilnihol Bobonazarova, was disqualified after failing to gather the required number of signatures.

Baker also mentioned irregularities in the election.

"The observation mission took note of widespread proxy voting, family voting, and group voting, as well as indications of ballot-box stuffing on election day," he said.

Baker noted restrictive requirements that hampered the changes of potential candidates during the registration process.

"[There were] restrictions on candidate registry, including an unreasonably large number of signatures needed for potential candidates to register," he said. "And that posed some significant obstacles to a number of nominees, and we found that to be at odds with OSCE commitments."

The head of the Commonwealth of Independent States' observer mission, Sergei Lebedev, praised the "significantly high voter turnout" in the election, officially put at 86.6 percent.

Lebedev said the CIS mission had recorded some incidents of multiple voting and other minor irregularities at some polling stations. However, Lebedev said those incidents would not have had any impact on the outcome of the election.

WATCH: Voting Irregularities In Tajikistan

Voting Irregularities In Tajikistan
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No Congratulations

The leader of the opposition Social Democrat Party, Rahmatillo Zoirov, said his party didn't recognize the election and "would not congratulate Rahmon" on his victory.

Zoirov said Rahmon's "team is not capable of improving and reforming the economic, political, and social situation in the country." The Social Democrats boycotted the election.

A representative of the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party, Jaloliddin Mahmudov, said that "since there wasn't any real competition in the election, the voting process was transparent."

Bobonazarova, the disqualified opposition candidate, criticized the election as a "political show staged by election officials and candidates."

"The candidates running against Rahmon gathered 210,000 supporters' signatures to enter the race," Bobonazarova said. "How is it possible that the number of votes they received was a lot less than that?"

With reporting by Reuters and AFP

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