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Tajik President Rakhmonov Poised to Win Second Term

Election officials in Tajikistan say incumbent President Emomali Rakhmonov appears poised to secure another seven-year term, according to preliminary results from Monday's polling. More than three million voters in the Central Asian nation cast ballots in the country's second presidential election since the civil war of the 1990's.

With nearly all the votes counted, the chairman of Tajikistan's Central Election Commission, Boltoiu Merzoali, says President Rakhmonov has won nearly 80 percent of the vote.

The four other candidates - all relative unknowns - secured vote tallies in the single digits.

The West's main election body, the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe, says Monday's election failed to meet international democratic standards. The OSCE notes a lack of equal access to the media and the absence of a single opposition candidate.

In contrast, the head of the observer mission for the Commonwealth of Independent States , Vladimir Rushailo, has hailed the election as free and fair.

Mr. Rushailo says the vote marks an important step for democracy in Tajikistan.

Yesterday, President Rakhmonov noted that his country's electoral process is far from perfect. He also urged leaders in the West against trying to impose a foreign template on Tajikistan, which he says would fail to recognize the majority Sunni Muslim population.

At the same time, Tajikistan has fostered some links with the West, providing critical access to air space over its territory for flights into Afghanistan.