International vote monitors slam Tajikistan’s parliamentary electionBy Peter Leonard, AP
Monday, March 1, 2010
Vote monitors slam Tajikistan’s parliamentary vote
DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — Rampant fraud including ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting marred Tajikistan’s weekend parliamentary elections, international observers said Monday, while the opposition threatened legal challenges.
Results have yet to be announced, but Sunday’s election was expected to confirm President Emomali Rakhmon’s two-decade grip on power over the impoverished Central Asian country that serves as a supply route for international forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
The opposition Islamic Revival Party complained of serious vote fraud, saying it had evidence of forged ballot count reports.
Vote monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe also said that the vote, while peaceful, was tainted by ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting.
“Such serious irregularities weaken genuine democratic progress,” said Pia Christmas-Moeller, an OSCE delegation leader.
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 behavior is unacceptable in a democratic society,” he said, calling the vote “untransparent and undemocratic.”
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.
It also criticized the lack of TV news coverage of campaign activities, as state media focused instead on encouraging Tajik citizens to buy shares in the government’s Roghun hydroelectric plant project. Tajikistan is hoping to generate enough energy for itself as well as for exports to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Challenging the results may be difficult, however, due to a lack of clarity in the appeals process.
Complaints to the election commission before the vote were dealt with behind closed doors without any formal decisions issued, undermining the right to court appeals, the OSCE said.
Tags: Asia, Central Asia, Dushanbe, Geography, Parliamentary Elections, Tajikistan