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Tajik ruling party sweeps polls, opposition out

Tajikistan's ruling party looked set to win a hefty parliamentary majority while the main Islamic opposition cried foul after being shut out in weekend elections said by Western observers to have been marred by "significant" cheating.



Dushanbe: Tajikistan's ruling party looked set to win a hefty parliamentary majority while the main Islamic opposition cried foul after being shut out in weekend elections said by Western observers to have been marred by "significant" cheating.

With 65 percent of today's vote counted, the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT) chaired by President Emomali Rakhmon was on course to take the vast majority of the legislature's 63 seats.

But the opposition Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) -- the only registered faith-based party in ex-Soviet Central Asia -- failed to win a single seat for the first time since 1999.

IRPT, Tajikistan's second largest party by membership, is one of the few potential sources of genuine opposition to Rakhmon's 22-year rule.

Its chairman, Muhiddin Kabiri, said the party refused to accept results that "did not correspond with reality".

Another opposition group, the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, critical of the Rakhmon government, failed to win any seats, as did the Communist Party.

Three other parties that made it into parliament -- the Agrarian Party, the Party of Economic Reforms of Tajikistan and the Socialist Party of Tajikistan -- are broadly viewed as pro-government.

The IRPT complained of government harassment during the campaign and a report by foreign election observers painted a damning picture.

"Significant shortcomings, including multiple voting and ballot box stuffing, and disregard of counting procedures meant that an honest count could not be guaranteed," said Norbert Neuser, head of a European Parliament delegation.

The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly added: "The imbalanced coverage by state media, negative reporting on the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan, and the absence of genuine political debate considerably limited the opportunity for voters to make an informed choice." 

From Zee News

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