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Tajik Opposition Parties Not Contesting By-Election

Suhrob Sharifov
Suhrob Sharifov
DUSHANBE -- Tajik opposition parties have not proposed any candidates to take part in a by-election next month for a parliament seat, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The deadline to register as a candidate in the December 18 election for a seat in the lower chamber of parliament (Majlisis Namoyandagon) representing Dushanbe's Shohmansur district was on November 2.

The seat was previously occupied by Safarali Rajabov, who died last month.

Jurakhon Buriev, an official representative of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon's ruling National-Democratic Party, told RFE/RL today that its candidate is Suhrob Sharifov, who was selected from among eight hopefuls.

Sharifov is the head of the presidential administration's Strategic Studies Center.

The Socialist Party of Tajikistan said on November 2 it has also registered a candidate for the election.

Some opposition party officials say the Socialist Party nominated a candidate simply to create the impression that the election will be democratic. They said the Socialist Party candidate has no chance of winning against Sharifov.

Meanwhile, Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan head Rahmatilo Zoirov proposed that opposition parties boycott the election. He said that until the electoral law is changed and opposition parties are represented on the electoral commissions at all levels, government officials will be able to arrange the outcome of all elections in advance.

The Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) said it agrees with the Social-Democratic Party and decided not to nominate a candidate for the by-election.

The IRPT agreed that opposition party officials should be represented on election commissions. But at the same time the IPRT does not support the idea of a boycott. It said all party members in the Shohmansur constituency are free to vote or not, as they wish.

The Communist Party argued that the election law should be amended to lower the amount of money candidates must pay as a nonrefundable deposit in the event a candidate is not elected. The current required deposit of 7,000 somonis (about $1,500) is equal to about 200 minimum monthly salaries in Tajikistan.

The Communists also disagreed with the boycott of the by-election and said their members are free to vote for "the best candidate" in Shohmansur.

Read more in Tajik here