Press Releases 2010
U.S. Embassy Election Observers Note Widespread Fraud and Irregularities In Parliamentary and Local Races
The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe closely followed Tajikistan's parliamentary election campaign and assisted in monitoring the February 28 voting. In the run-up to the election, Embassy representatives met with government officials, political party leaders, Tajik political scientists, and its staff served as accredited observers. The Embassy's efforts reflect the U.S. Government's support for the ongoing development of Tajikistan's electoral system.
Initial evaluation of observations by embassy staff election observers indicates that the vote was beset by procedural irregularities and fraud, including cases of ballot stuffing. Embassy observers reported widespread proxy voting and family voting, general lack of adherence to requirements that voters show identification to obtain ballots, disorganization and procedural irregularities in the counting phase, and cases of bias by local election officials in favor of the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT). Embassy monitors also found one case of a district count of voting station results which did not match the results posted at the station itself, and the discrepancy benefitted the PDPT.
The OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights(ODIHR) also deployed an independent observer mission throughout the country. An ODIHR statement of preliminary findings said the elections "failed to meet many key OSCE commitments contained in the 1990 Copenhagen document and other international standards for democratic elections."
Though opposition political parties were able to conduct limited election campaigns, they faced an uneven playing field due to substantial support provided to the PDPT by government officials. PDPT materials, banners, and signs were disseminated in a manner consistent with a government-sponsored public mobilization campaign. There were reports that local officials provided administrative support to PDPT candidates and, in some districts, restricted the opportunity of opposition candidates to meet with voters.
There was a lack of coverage of the elections in the media, particularly on state television. The four state television stations declined to broadcast national debates. They allotted the legally required minimum number of minutes for candidates to address voters, but there was little opportunity for candidates to openly debate national issues or discuss government policies in the media. Recent lawsuits by government officials against the newspapers Asia-Plus, Ozadagon, Farazh, Millat, and Paykon had a negative impact on the media's ability to report on political issues in general.
We appreciate the Tajikistan Central Committee on Elections and Referenda's accreditation of election observers from the U.S. Embassy.
The embassy will be in close contact with other observer missions and the Government of Tajikistan regarding the issues raised by our observations.
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