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Another Flawed Election in Tajikistan


People vote at a polling station during previous parliamentary elections. (FILE)

Tajikistan has not held what Western observers would consider a free and fair election since 1992.

Tajikistan has not held what Western observers would consider a free and fair election since 1992. The parliamentary elections on March 1st were no exception and fell short of these standards. According to the Tajik Election Commission, the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan led by President Emomali Rahmon, reportedly won over 65 percent of the vote, with some 87 percent turnout.

But according to the head of the European Parliament observer delegation, Norber Neuser, there were "significant shortcomings, including multiple voting and ballot box stuffing, and disregard of counting procedures meant that an honest count could not be guaranteed." Indeed, more than half of the vote counts monitored by Western observers were assessed negatively.

The United States encourages the government of Tajikistan to make the additional reforms proposed by the OSCE.

Although the government of Tajikistan made some improvement to the electoral law, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe determined that restrictions on the right to run, on freedom of expression and assembly, and on access to the media limited the opportunity of voters to make a free and informed choice.

Amendments in 2014 to Tajikistan’s election law addressed some long-standing recommendations by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), but further reform is needed. The law was often selectively interpreted in a manner that restricted the freedoms of expression and assembly, as well as the right to access information.

The head of the OSCE/ODIHR long-term election observation mission, Miklos Haraszti, said that state-run media outlets were used by the authorities to promote the ruling party, while other parties were given limited opportunity to announce their goals and programs.

"Genuinely democratic elections cannot be held without real debate in the media, an independent election administration, and an environment free of repression. Unfortunately all of these were missing," Mr. Haraszti said.

The United States encourages the government of Tajikistan to make the additional reforms proposed by the OSCE in order to ensure that future elections meet international election standards, uphold internationally recognized civil and political rights, and accurately reflect the will of the people of Tajiksistan.

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