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Tajiks Divided Over Fairness of Upcoming Polls

Tajikistan’s parliamentary election is still a month away, but the outcome appears to be predetermined– a win for the governing People’s Democratic Party, PDP.
By IWPR Central Asia
President Imomali Rahmon has repeatedly given assurances that the February 28 ballot will be free, fair and transparent.

Opinion among prospective voters whom Khalil Qoimzoda interviewed on the streets of the capital Dushanbe varied between faith in the electoral process to outright scepticism.

Rahmatullo Zoirov, leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party, doubts the election can be fair. The very fact that President Rahmon is simultaneously head of the PDP places this party in a more advantageous position, he says.

Zoirov notes that the PDP has four representatives sitting on the Central Electoral Commission, while a number of other parties have one representative each and his own has none.

He also accuses the authorities of sanctioning covert pro-PDP propaganda on state television.

Khurshed Atavullo, head of the Centre for Investigative Journalism, agrees that state media coverage is biased, and he says this means the authorities will have no need to fix the election results as voters will already have been swayed.

Atavullo also believes the other parties competing in the election have effectively conceded victory already, and in any case they have few policies that differ radically from those of the PDP.