Tajikistan: autocrat holds pseudo-election

Note the last paragraph. Tajikistan, it seems, is the new Uzbekistan. Islam Karimov may now be Moscow’s son of a bitch. But Emomali Rakhmonov is (as FDR said of Nicaraguan dictator Anastaio Somoza) “our son of a bitch.” From Pakistan’s Daily Times, Nov. 8:

Tajik president courted by the West cruises to poll victory

DUSHANBE: Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov was declared winner on Tuesday of a presidential election in the strategic Central Asian state, a result likely to be welcomed by foreign powers despite doubts about its fairness.

The election commission said Rakhmonov, 54, had won Monday’s poll with just over 79 percent of the vote, giving him an outright win, albeit short of the thumping 97 percent he won in 1999. His clinching of a new seven-year term was widely expected among Western governments, which have courted the Tajik leader amid a renewed struggle for influence in the region since the Soviet Union’s 1991 collapse.

None of the main opposition parties participated and Western election observers gave a critical assessment. “While this election marks some improvement on 1999, the framework was not adequate for genuine democratic elections,” said Onno Van der Wind, head of the 170-strong Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s observation mission. “The lack of any serious campaign and credible alternatives undermined this election”, Kimmo Kiljunen, the coordinator of OSCE said in a statement. “Observers noted serious shortcomings during polling including widespread family voting, proxy voting, multiple voting and identical signatures on voter lists,” the statement added.

First elected president in 1994, the Tajik leader is credited with pushing a 1997 peace accord ending a civil war that broke out after the Soviet collapse and that claimed up to 150,000 lives, according to official figures. More recently, Tajikistan has become a link in Western efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan, providing overflight rights to Western militaries, as the Tajik leader has sought ties not only with Moscow but with neighbouring China, the United States, India, Iran and Pakistan.

The West has been especially keen to foster ties with Tajikistan since neighbouring Uzbekistan ejected US forces from a base there last year and clamped down on US-backed non-governmental organisations, although some diplomats would like Rakhmonov to pick up the pace of reform. agencies

See our last posts on Tajikistan and the Great Game for Central Asia.