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Tajik President Expected To Win Fourth Term As Presidential Polls Close

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon casts his vote in Dushanbe.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon casts his vote in Dushanbe.
Polls have closed in Tajikistan's presidential election amid reports of irregularities at some polling stations.

The Central Election Commission, (CEC) said voter turnout in the election on November 6 was well above 80 percent.

The CEC had earlier declared the election valid after the turnout figures passed the 50 percent threshold required to make the polls legitimate.

Long-serving incumbent Emomali Rahmon is expected to win by a large margin. He ran against five relatively unknown candidates, who largely refrained from criticizing government policies during the state-sponsored presidential election campaign.

The opposition Social Democrat Party boycotted the poll, saying the election campaign had been held amid "violations of the constitution" and with "state-organized falsifications."

The party accuses Tajik authorities of creating obstacles that prevented the opposition's single candidate, Oinihol Bobonazarova, from successfully registering.

Rahmon cast his ballot amid tight security at a Dushanbe polling station. RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported that journalists were barred from the polling station when Rahmon and his family members arrived.

The other five candidates also voted in their respective polling stations.

Read More: It's All About Rahmon

RFE/RL's Tajik Service correspondents have reported several cases of multiple voting.

In the southern Vahdat district, for example, several women cast multiple ballots for their family members while election workers looked on.

A woman at Vahdat's Kirghizon polling station voted for 10 members of her family. The woman told reporters she voted on behalf of her husband, sons, and daughters-in-law, who were all too busy to personally cast their ballots.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has criticized Tajik elections in the past for "serious irregularities...including a high incidence of proxy voting."

WATCH: Multiple Voting In Tajikistan's Presidential Election
Voting Irregularities In Tajikistan
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In Dushanbe, Nazira Karaboyeva said she had voted for the stability under Rahmon: "I want for everything to be OK. I voted for his excellency and that is my wish."

Pensioner Zikiriyo Sharipov also voted for Rahmon: "Well, our president is good, so we voted for him, that is all."

Gordana Comic, head of the Tajik observer mission for the OSCE, said "everything so far seems to be going quite smoothly."

"And we'll see throughout the day -- will there will be any violation of the voters' rights? Will there be any violation of the procedures? Or will everything finally go smoothly?" Comic said. "And then after closing hour and the counting period, we will have a final statement and conclusions. I do hope that it will be a good day for the people of Tajikistan."

YouTube Blocked

In the run-up to the election, the OSCE criticized Tajikistan's state-controlled media for exclusively focusing on Rahmon in their campaign coverage.

Access to YouTube, as well as a popular independent news portal, was partially blocked in Tajikistan on the eve of the poll.

A source close to the Tajik government told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on November 5 that the partial blockage of YouTube and the news portal Ozodagon had been ordered by the State Communications Service.

Rahmon has been in power since 1992 and was declared the winner in Tajikistan's previous elections in 1994, 1999, and 2006. The country has no record of free and fair elections.

Rahmon's supporters credit him with securing peace and stability in the wake of the country's five-year civil war in the 1990s.

However, he is widely criticized for marginalizing the opposition, cracking down on independent media, and mishandling the economy.

Tajikistan is one of the poorest countries in Central Asia, plagued with a struggling economy, high unemployment, and rampant corruption.

In addition to Rahmon, presidential candidates are Tolibbek Bukhoriev from the Agrarian Party; Olim Boboev from the Economic Reforms Party; Ismoil Talbakov from the Communist Party; Abduhalim Ghafforov from the Socialist Party; and Saidja'far Ismonov from the Democratic Party.

The Central Election Commission says it has registered some 4 million eligible voters, including more than 1 million Tajiks living outside the country.

Preliminary results are expected to be announced on November 7.

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