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Tajikistan Holds Presidential Elections


Voters in Tajikistan are casting ballots in the country's second presidential election since the civil war of the 1990's. None of the country's main opposition parties is participating in the race, fueling expectations that incumbent President Emomali Rakhmonov will secure another seven-year term.

Slightly more than three million people are expected to vote in today's presidential election in Tajikistan, pitting incumbent President Emomali Rakhmonov against four other candidates.

The West's main election monitoring body, the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), is already criticizing the vote. In a pre-election report, the OSCE said there are no signs a free and fair campaign. Concerns center around a lack of equal access to the media and the absence of any opposition candidates.

Incumbent President Rakhmonov disputes the criticism, saying elections in Tajikistan have come a long way since Soviet days.

Addressing reporters, after casting his ballot earlier in the capital, Dushanbe, Mr. Rakhmonov also noted Tajikistan is home to a majority Sunni Muslim population.

As such, he said it is wrong to try and impose a foreign template on a country and expect it to work. This was an apparent reference to instability sparked by elections in Georgia, Ukraine, and neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

Many voters say they will be casting their ballots for continued stability. Tajikistan's people still struggle under the effects of a five-year civil war, during which up to 150,000 people died. For that and other reasons, few people expect to see any major protests following the election.

First results are expected Tuesday.