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Tajikistan election fraud alleged

Preliminary results show Tajikistan's pro-government party winning weekend parliamentary elections by a landslide, officials said Monday, as international monitors and the opposition cited widespread fraud.

Preliminary results show Tajikistan's pro-government party winning weekend parliamentary elections by a landslide, officials said Monday, as international monitors and the opposition cited widespread fraud.

Election authorities empty a ballot box at a polling station in Dushanbe on Sunday. Preliminary results show Tajikistan's pro-government party winning weekend parliamentary elections by a landslide. ((Nozim Kalandarov/Reteurs) )

The results — if confirmed by the final count in 10 days — would reinforce President Emomali Rakhmon's two-decade hold over the impoverished Central Asian country that serves as a supply route for international forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The initial tally after all of Sunday's votes were counted showed the government-backed party with 71.7 per cent and the main opposition Islamic Revival Party with just 7.7 per cent, the Central Elections Commission said.

However, international monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said that while the vote peaceful, it was marred by ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting.

Islamic Revival said it had evidence of forged ballot count reports.

"Such serious irregularities weaken genuine democratic progress," said Pia Christmas-Moeller, an OSCE delegation leader.

The early results showed the Communist Party, the only other party with seats in the current legislature, in third place with 7.2 per cent, according to the election commission.

It did not give a breakdown for how many parliamentary seats each party would receive, but said two parties not represented in the current parliament would gain a seat each, despite not exceeding the five per cent threshold for party-list seats. In Tajikistan's 63-seat parliament, 41 seats are elected directly in separate races and 22 are allotted based on proportional party representation.

Islamic Revival leader Muhiddin Kabiri warned that, if his party's complaints were not quickly addressed, "we will take tough and decisive legal steps."

The opposition party said it had about 100 copies of blank vote count reports with faked signatures of local election commission members, which Kabiri said would have allowed for incorrect tallies to be submitted to the Central Election Commission.

"This behaviour is unacceptable in a democratic society," he said, calling the vote "untransparent and undemocratic."

He said the OSCE should be more firm in its criticism, saying his party would study the organization's report but that "so far they have expressed themselves very diplomatically and said nothing concrete."

The OSCE said Tajikistan's laws may have led to unfairly balanced electoral commissions as well as a lack of fairness in voter registration, campaigning and election day procedures.

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