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Tajikistan's Islamic party to sue election board


DUSHANBE, Tajikistan, (The Associated Press):

Tajikistan's main opposition party said Tuesday it plans to sue the Central Asian nation's elections board amid claims it abetted fraud in this weekend's parliamentary vote.

Preliminary results show the pro-government party won Sunday's elections by a landslide in a vote that international monitors said was marred by widespread fraud. The results look likely to reinforce President Emomali Rakhmon's two-decade hold over the impoverished country that serves as a supply route for international forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

Islamic Revival Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri said Tuesday that his party won around 30 percent of the vote, and not 7.7 percent as claimed by the Central Elections Commission. Top party officials are due to meet Wednesday to consider how to protest the election results in addition to its planned lawsuit. "We will decide whether to take part in the incoming parliament, or whether to declare a hunger strike or organize a rally," Kabiri said.

International monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that while the vote was peaceful, it was marred by ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting. The Central Elections Commission's initial tally after all the votes were counted showed the government-backed People's Democratic Party with 71.7 percent. The Communist Party finished third with 7.2 percent.

With Rakhmon at its head, the People's Democratic Party enjoys a high public profile in state media, but the Islamic Revival Party conducted a vigorous grass-roots campaign ahead of the election. Election officials said two parties not represented in the current parliament would still gain a seat each despite not exceeding the 5-percent threshold for party-list seats. Around 1 percent of votes garnered by smaller parties were distributed among the Agrarian Party and the Economic Reform Party, enabling them to enter parliament, the Central Elections Commission said Tuesday. Final election results will be confirmed next week.

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