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Friday, November 5, 1999 Published at 15:41 GMT


World: Asia-Pacific

Tajik president wins second term

President Rakhmonov said he had voted for "peace and harmony"

President Emomali Rakhmonov has been re-elected by an overwhelming majority to a new seven-year term in the Central Asian republic of Tajikistan.

Mr Rakhmonov won 96% of the ballot in what was the country's first presidential election since the end of the civil war in 1997.

The Central Election Commisssion said early on Sunday that 98% of Tajikistan's 2.8 million electorate turned out to vote.

President Rakhmonov said after casting his ballot that he had "voted for peace and national harmony in Tajikistan".

However foreign observers and opposition parties had been critical of the organisation of the elections, saying that candidate registration had been flawed and media access restricted.

There were also allegations of voting irregularities.

Violations

At least one western observer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he noticed electoral violations at several polling stations in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, as citizens cast more than one ballot.


[ image: More than 50,000 died in five years of civil war]
More than 50,000 died in five years of civil war
"There was multiple voting at every site we visited," he said.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had refused to monitor the election, although around 100 monitors from 14 countries - includingTurkey and Iran - were in the country.

"If none of the candidates from the opposition were able to collect the required number of signatures, it was due to difficulties they faced when trying to gather them," said the head of the OSCE mission in Tajikistan, Marin Buhoara.

Protest

President Rakhmonov's only challenger - Economics Minister Davlat Usmon of the Islamic Revival Party - had earlier said he was withdrawing from the race in protest at official obstructions to his campaign.

But Said Abdullo Nuri, the leader of the Islamic-led United Tajik Opposition (UTO), met President Rakhmonov on Friday and the two agreed that the Islamic Revival Party would not boycott the ballot.

"After I received guarantees of full-scale participation for movements that comprise the UTO in the forthcoming parliamentary elections, I took the decision to resume our participation," Mr Nuri said.

Mr Usmon said he and two other potential candidates were hampered in their attempts to gather the 145,000 signatures necessary for registration.

Officials later registered Mr Usmon's candidacy even though he lacked the required number of signatures.

Commission

The UTO had boycotted the elections and had suspended its activities on the National Reconciliation Commission, set up in 1997 to implement a peace accord between the government and the Islamic opposition.

Mr Nuri later said that the UTO would start co-operating again from Monday.

Mr Usmon was a UTO field commander during the five years of civil war which claimed 55,000 lives before the 1997 peace settlement.

Parliamentary elections, which are vital to a lasting peace, are due to be held next year.



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