No one in Dushanbe doubted who would win Tajikistan’s presidential election on November 6; most did not expect a free and fair vote. But President Imomali Rahmon’s administration tried to put on a good show.
The incumbent, in power for 21 years, was coasting to another seven-year term late on November 6 amid accounts of intimidation, multiple voting, and a suspiciously dazzling turnout. The 61-year-old Rahmon, who is often described in authoritarian Tajikistan as “His Excellency,” ran against five virtual unknowns. The only serious opposition candidate was prevented from registering, ostensibly because she did not gather enough signatures. The disqualified candidate, human rights lawyer Oynihol Bobonazarova, maintains that authorities intimidated her supporters.
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Konstantin Parshin is a freelance writer based in Tajikistan. David Trilling contributed reporting.