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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fraud Cited as Tajik Head Wins Polls

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Tajik leader Emomali Rakhmonov has been declared winner of Tajikistan's presidential election over a challenger who accused him of fraud and intimidation.


Rakhmonov won with 60 percent of the vote in an election that attracted 90 percent of the voters in this impoverished, war-torn nation, the Central Elections Committee said Monday.


His only challenger, the Tajik ambassador to Moscow, Abdulmalik Abdulladjanov, got 35 percent of the vote, said election committee chairman Kadrigin Niyazov.


Abdulladjanov's campaign headquarters issued a statement alleging voter intimidation and widespread fraud in Sunday's balloting. The statement said at least a third of Rakhmonov's votes were falsified, news agencies reported.


The government-run election commission, however, said the balloting had been clean, as did the Russian Embassy in Dushanbe and a group of observers from other former Soviet republics.


"The people have made the right choice," Niyazov said. "The platform of the esteemed Emomali Shaivovich meets the vital needs of the people and the nation for democratization."


Serious questions about fairness surrounded the hastily called election from the outset. The Council on Security and Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations refused to send observers.


The opposition leaders who survived the civil war that brought Rakhmonov to power in late 1992 are either dead or in exile, and their parties are banned. The media is controlled by the government.


Only one small group of international observers -- 27 people from former Soviet republics plus small contingents from Iran and Turkey -- monitored the voting. They were able to visit only a fraction of the 2,469 polling stations in the Central Asian nation.


They told a news conference Monday the balloting appeared to have been held properly and said they observed no human-rights violations at the polls.


The election was a contest between Tajikistan's most powerful factions. Rakhmonov, chairman of the Supreme Soviet, represents the southern Kulyab clan. Abdulladjanov represents the northerners.


Exiled opposition leader Khodzhiarbar Turadzhonzoda said the opposition would continue peace talks with the government and abide by a temporary cease-fire. But he told Itar-Tass the election might have alienated the north from the south and could lead to a new and different conflict.


"The election of Rakhmonov will not bring peace and will only worsen Tajikistan's crisis," he said.


Voters on Sunday also endorsed Tajikistan's first post-Soviet constitution. The election committee said the charter was approved by 90 percent of the vote.