The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) of Tajikistan made public on March 1 and 2 the official, incomplete, though conclusive returns of the February 27 parliamentary elections. At stake were the Assembly of Representatives’ eighty-five seats, twenty-two of them to be allocated proportionately to party slates and sixty-three of them to be adjudicated in single-mandate electoral constituencies. The CEC credited the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of President Imomali Rahmonov with a landslide victory but has not yet provided a conclusive turnout figure–a failing likely to add to the doubts surrounding these returns.
In the contest among party slates, the CEC attributed 64.5 percent of the votes cast to the PDP, 20.6 percent to the Communist Party and 7.5 percent to the Islamic Rebirth Party, which is the mainstay of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). The other three competing parties fell below the 5 percent barrier for parliamentary representation. The votes cast for those parties will be credited mostly to the PDP, which is thus set to capture an estimated sixteen out of the twenty-two parliamentary seats allocated under the proportional system. In the single-mandate constituencies, fifty seats were adjudicated on the first round. The PDP won thirty-three of these, pro-PDP candidates seven, the Communist Party eight and the IRP two. Another thirteen are to be contested in the March 12 runoff.
In terms of plausibility, the returns represent a marginal improvement over the Soviet-style 97 percent victory which the same CEC attributed to President Imomali Rahmonov in the November 1999 presidential election. In that exercise, Rahmonov’s Communist allies worked for his reelection. In these parliamentary elections, however, the Communists feel cheated of a share of spoils commensurate to their services. In an unprecedented turn of events, the Communist Party has joined the IRP in protesting against unfairness, irregularities and miscount of the votes in the elections. Both the Communists and the Islamists are appealing for redress to the joint monitoring mission of the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Akbar Turajonzoda, the former first vice chairman of both the UTO and the IRP, actually urged the electorate on the eve of the balloting to support the ruling PDP for the sake of stability in the country. Turajonzoda even claimed that Rahmonov’s 97 percent victory in the November 1997 presidential election was genuine, and that the IRP had the support of no more than 2 percent of the voters. Such a statement, in effect repudiating Turajonzoda’s own political career, casts doubt over whether he and other coopted ex-leaders of the opposition can still be considered free agents. Turajonzoda fills a figurehead role as first deputy prime minister responsible for relations with CIS countries. But the government keeps him far removed from any of the important and sensitive aspects of relations with Russia. Instead, he is reduced to negotiating trade agreements with such countries as Belarus or Kyrgyzstan (Asia-Plus Blitz, Dushanbe Radio, Itar-Tass, Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Mashhad), February 28-29, March 1-6; see the Monitor, November 19, 1999, February 25).
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