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DUSHANBE, March 1. /TASS/. Tajikistan has entered the final stage of the campaign to elect new deputies of the lower house of the national parliament.
President Emomali Rakhmon has called the election that is held on Sunday "a crucial political event for the entire country and its people."
He confirmed that national leadership’s strong interest in holding a civilized, transparent and democratic voting, in which all the voters would express their will freely.
Firdavs Tabarov, the press secretary of the Central Election Commission said a total of 288 candidates were competing for 63 seats in the country’s legislative assembly. Of that number, 103 candidates were running on party tickets and another 185 had been nominated in single-mandate constituencies.
As many as 79 candidates were self-nominees.
The authorities organized 3,200 polling stations, including 35 stations in 27 foreign countries, three of which were set up in Russia.
The two most influential political forces, the ruling Popular Democratic Party and the Party for Islamic Revival of Tajikistan, have nominated 27 candidates each.
The Agrarian Party and the Social Democratic Party, which stands in a tough opposition to the authorities, have nominated 13 candidates each.
A total of twenty-seven candidates have been nominated by the Communists, Socialist, Democrats and Economic Reformers.
The Popular Democrats have 55 seats in the current convocation of the lower house, which is more than the constitutional majority.
Experts point out that three-fourths of the parliamentary seats have traditionally been occupied by the Popular Democrats led by President Rakhmon, their all-time leader, while the other six parties have had only two representatives each. As for the Social Democrats, they have been unable so far to get over the qualification barrier for getting seats in parliament.
Political party leaders said the election race had been unmarked by any major violations of the law.
"There were some infractions, including certain pressure on the part of the authorities and complaints to judiciary agencies, but one thing is clear, through: obvious positive pro-democracy shifts have taken place within society compared with the previous elections and a greater freedom for political opposition in making public its programmes," Shodi Shabdolov, the leaders of the Communist Party said on the eve of the day of silence, which preceded the day of voting.
Sharp criticism of the authorities’ actions could be heard throughout the campaign only on behalf of leaders of the Party for the Islamic Revival of Tajikistan and the leader of the Social Democrats, Rakhmatillo Zoyirov. They expressed discontent with pressure on oppositionist politicians and party activists.
Nonetheless, the Party for Islamic Revival of Tajikistan hopes to get no less than ten deputies in the new convocation of parliament and the Social Democrats have expectations for getting over the 5% qualification barrier.
Political analysts have noted unanimously an obvious inertness of this election that was marked by feeble debates between opponents, as well as by the absence of political passions typical of election races or eye-catching political statements that would evoke everyone's interest.
Experts say the contenders' speeches were overly academic, theorizing and unattractive by the electorate, if one looks at the low spectator ratings of the programmes where the deputies would mostly appear.
"All the candidates confined their speeches to stating their commitment to peace and stability in the country, the eagerness to prevent a new civil conflict, the willingness to continue the economic and social reforms, and the importance of transparency of the election race," political scientist Rafael Ignatov told TASS.
"One could obviously get an impression all those statements had been copied from the same dummy," he said. "Quite probably, this also explains for the flagging interest to the elections on the part of the Tajikistani media, including the independent ones.
International organizations have sent 528 observers to monitor the election, which is covered by more than 100 foreign correspondents.
On the eve of the election, the CIS Executive Secretary, Sergei Lebedev, spoke to the media about the opinion of members of the CIS observer mission, the biggest one at this election.
"The election race was unmarred by any serious incidents and it fully conformed to the national legislation and the Convention for the Standards of Democratic Elections, which the CIS member-nations adopted at a summit in Chisinau (Moldova) in 2002," he said.
"I got an impression after the meeting with Tajikistani authorities and Emomali Rakhmon personally that the authorities of Tajikistan and he personally are sincerely interested in holding a truly democratic election," Lebedev said.