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“As in the Soviet Union”. Presidential Elections were Held in Tajikistan

The incumbent President, Emomali Rahmon, as expected, won the election with triumph. According to the Central Election Commission, over 90 percent of voters voted for him.

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Voter turnout, according to preliminary data from the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER), was 85.39% or 4.221 million voters. The total number of voters was 4,900,545 citizens.

On October 12, CCER chairman Bakhtiyor Khudoyorzoda said that 3,837,927 people or 90.92% of voters voted for Rahmon’s candidacy.

A total of 3,375 polling stations were opened in Tajikistan and 39 in foreign countries.

Emomali Rahmon has been re-elected for the next seven years. He has served as President since 1994. The Law on the Leader of the Nation allows him to run for the president an unlimited number of times.

CABAR.asia journalists observed the voting process, which began at 6 am and lasted until 8 pm.

The observation showed that the necessary precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic were observed at the sites. Voters were provided with masks and given the opportunity to disinfect their hands. However, the rest of the voting was marked by additions and violations.

For instance, at a polling station located at school No. 78 in the Rudaki district, one of the voters threw two ballots into the ballot box, while the other threw four at once. Although according to the law, each voter has only one vote and, accordingly, can only cast one ballot in the ballot box.

When asked by a CABAR.asia journalist, both violators said that they voted for their family members who fell ill and could not come.

The management of the polling station did not give a clear answer to the question of journalists about the reasons why they issued extra ballots to violators. After the outrage of some of those present, one of the supervisors told colleagues that they should not give out more than one ballot to anyone in the future.

Two observers from the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan (PDPT) were present at the site. However, when asked by journalists about their reasons for ignoring the issuance of extra ballots, these observers stated that they did not see this violation.

It should be noted that the place where the observers were located was really far from the ballot boxes and voting booths, which complicated the observation process. However, the PDPT observers did not protest because of their unfavourable location. There were no international observers at the site.

The CCER claimed that 145 international and over 13,000 local observers were present at the elections.

According to journalists, voter turnout was low. Basically, those who wanted to take part in the voting process came in the first hours of the work of the election commissions. However, there were not many of them either.


Asomiddin Rakhimov, a 66-year-old resident of the Firdavsi district of Dushanbe, was among the first voters. Rakhimov said that he came to vote for the “development of the country”. He does not agree with those who claim that the outcome of the elections is already predetermined.

 “I am confident that my voice has power and significance,” Rakhimov said.

However, in the second half of the day, the already low turnout fell further. A typical picture was when there was no one at the polling stations, except for the bored members of the election commissions.

Oppositionists do not believe in the figures of the Tajik Central Election Commission

The group of international observers of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA) stated that the presidential elections in Tajikistan “were held in accordance with the Constitution and the Constitutional Law on Election of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan. They were free, competitive, consistent with the generally accepted principles of democratic elections, and ensured the free expression of the will of the citizens of the Republic of Tajikistan. ”

Observers of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly. Photo: iacis.ru
Observers of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly. Photo: iacis.ru

A similar opinion was expressed by the Observer Mission of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

“The Mission notes that the elections took place on a wide competitive basis, in an atmosphere of openness and transparency of the election campaign, with an active participation of civil society members, and under favourable conditions created for the citizens, who could make an independent and conscious choice,” the SCO observers said in a statement.

The European Union (EU) stated that “the presidential elections seem to have been carried out in a peaceful and orderly manner”.

 “However, we note that several of the recommendations identified in the final report of OSCE/ODIHR Electoral Assessment Mission that was deployed in March 2020 in connection with the parliamentary elections remain valid and unimplemented, such as the independence of the media environment and political plurality,” the EU spokesman said in a statement.

The EU also reported that within 6-8 weeks the organization’s experts will publish the final report on the presidential elections in Tajikistan.

Four of Emomali Rahmon’s opponents announced the recognition of election results and that they had no complaints about how the voting was conducted.

Saidjafar Usmonzoda, chairman of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan and a Member of Parliament, believes that this year’s presidential elections were held in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. 

 “The only drawbacks of the elections were insufficient campaigning of the candidates. It was necessary to install special billboards to demonstrate the candidates’ programs, so that the public was informed of their intentions. Many people not only do not know the candidates’ programs, but they do not know most of them,” Usmonzoda stated in an interview with CABAR.

Saidjafar Usmonzoda. Photo from personal page on Facebook.com
Saidjafar Usmonzoda. Photo from personal page on Facebook.com

He also did not notice any violations of the electoral legislation on the day of voting.

However, already in the first hours of voting, social networks reported the facts of “family voting” – when one family member was given the ballots of all his relatives.

These people claimed that their relatives were at work and asked them to vote for the whole family. The CCER did not comment on the reports of this.

Faromuz Irgashev, a 30-year-old lawyer from the city of Khorog who unsuccessfully attempted to register in the elections on his own, told CABAR that he did not go to the elections because he did not believe in their fairness.

 “I did not go to the elections because I do not believe in their transparency at all. Better get on with your own business. According to my observations, mainly authorities went to the elections,” Irgashev said.

The leader of Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Rahmatillo Zoirov, on his Facebook page expressed doubts about the accuracy CCER’s data on voter turnout.

The CCER said that by 15:00 on October 11, about 71% of voters had voted in the presidential elections in Tajikistan.

Rahmatillo Zoirov. Photo from personal page on Facebook.com
Rahmatillo Zoirov. Photo from personal page on Facebook.com

 “You need to be more objective and humble. You cannot lie and cheat to this extent,” the SDPT leader said, commenting on the message.

In an interview with the media, Zoirov stated that SDPT had boycotted the elections, but party members are monitoring the voting process, including voter turnout. He also said that SDPT does not recognize the results of these elections.

Some social media users also questioned the CCER’s turnout data, pointing out that at least one million voters or around 20% are in labour migration abroad.

For instance, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, over a million Tajik citizens were registered by the department in Russia in June of this year.

A significant number of Tajik migrants live in Moscow. However, the Tajik Ambassador to Russia Imomuddin Sattorov stated that he expects about five thousand voters to come to the polling station opened at the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in Moscow.

Voting at the Embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow. Photo: tajembassy.ru
Voting at the Embassy of Tajikistan in Moscow. Photo: tajembassy.ru

“The turnout met our expectations. Probably, around 16:00, we can say that 90-95% of the number of people that we expected, came and voted. However we, based on the situation, did not expect this – that people will be actively coming throughout the day,” the Ambassador said.

Tajik journalist and expert Nurali Davlat believes that the past elections were the most unexciting ones since independence. According to him, they reminded him of uncontested elections that took place during the Soviet era.

 “At the same time, there was a tendency that each election was less interesting than the previous ones,” said Nurali Davlat.

 Timeline of the election process

August 6 – two chambers of the Tajik Parliament agreed to hold presidential elections on October 11. The presidential elections were supposed to take place on November 6, but members of the Parliament declared that because of the pandemic, they should be held a month earlier.  

August 15 – the Agrarian Party of Tajikistan has nominated Rustam Latifzoda for elections.

August 22 – the Socialist Party of Tajikistan has nominated Abdukhalim Gafforzoda for the presidency.

August 23 – the Democratic Party of Tajikistan has nominated its leader Saidjafar Usmonzoda to run in the elections. However, eventually, the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER) rejected Usmonzoda candidacy due to the fact that he did not collect the necessary 260 thousand votes required for registration.

August 24 – the Party of Economic Reforms announced that Rustam Rakhmatzoda will run for the party.

August 26 – the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Tajikistan has nominated Emomali Rahmon to run in the elections.

August 31 – the Youth Union of Tajikistan has also nominated Emomali Rahmon for presidency.

August 31 – the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan (SDPT), the country’s only real opposition party, has declared a boycott of the presidential elections. SDPT leader Rahmatillo Zoirov stated that setting the election day for October 11 was “illegal” and that it was impossible to collect 260 thousand signatures in support of the candidate during this time.

September 3 – Faromuz Irgashev, a 30-year-old lawyer from the city of Khorog – the administrative center of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, has independently put forward his candidacy for the presidency. However, Faromuz Irgashev was not able to register due to the fact that he did not collect 260 thousand signatures. At the time of his nomination, sources associated with the government said that the electoral legislation for the presidential elections did not provide for a self-nomination procedure.

September 3 – the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan has nominated Emomali Rahmon.

September 5 – the Communist Party of Tajikistan has nominated its Chairman, Miroj Abdulloev, as a candidate for the presidency.   

September 13 – the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER) of Tajikistan has registered five presidential candidates: These are: Rustam Latifzoda, Abdukhalim Gafforzoda, Rustam Rakhmatzoda, Miroj Abdulloev and Emomali Rahmon.

September 15 – the CCER issued certificates to five candidates, and they officially started their campaigning program.

October 9 – the election campaign has ended.

October 10 – was declared a “day of silence” in Tajikistan.

October 11 – the presidential elections lasted from 6:00 to 20:00.

October 12 – the Central Election Commission announces the preliminary election results. According to the CCER, Emomali Rakhmon won with 90.92 percent of the vote.

This article was prepared as part of the Giving Voice, Driving Change – from the Borderland to the Steppes Project. The opinions expressed in the article do not reflect the position of the editorial or donor.

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