MOSCOW, March 1 (DPA / EP) –
Tajikistan is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday to strengthen the support of the country’s current president, Emomali Rahmon, which requires voters to elect 63 MPs to the lower house of parliament.
“The respect for fundamental freedoms has worsened since the last elections,” said the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which is responsible for independently monitoring the electoral process.
The number of potential voters invited to these elections has been estimated at 4.8 billion in polling stations that have already opened and will continue to run for 20 hours (local time).
“Tajikistan is a presidential republic in which the president acts as both head of state and head of government, while parliament has limited powers,” said the OSCE. Rahmon has been running the country for 25 years and has not allowed opposition to his government during that time.
“The choice between different political alternatives is limited because there is no independent media and no functioning opposition,” said the OSCE, adding that the authorities retain a monopoly over the media.
The former Soviet Republic, which borders Afghanistan and continues to be heavily influenced by Russia, remains largely dependent on agricultural activities. The International Monetary Fund said in a 2018 report that Tajikistan’s “underwater economy” could help boost the country’s gross domestic product by up to 40 percent.