International monitors have strongly criticised Tajikistan’s presidential poll in which incumbent Imomali Rakhmon was reelected with a landslide.
A lack of pluralism and genuine choice were highlighted by observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
In power for more than 20 years, Rakhmon won over 83 percent of the vote according to official figures. He faced five little-known, mainly loyal challengers. His only serious rival was barred from running.
Would-be candidate Oynihol Bobonazarova, who was backed by the opposition Islamic Revival Party and the Social Democrats, was barred because she failed to present the 210,000 petition signatures required to get on the ballot.
She has said that many activists collecting signatures to support her were summoned
by prosecutors or intimidated by security agents.
As he starts a new seven-year-term, Rakhmon faces a challenge to ensure stability in a volatile region bordering Afghanistan.
Domestically, the Moscow-backed, authoritarian leader of the impoverished former Soviet nation keeps its small opposition in check. But he faces rising social tension in a country where nearly half the 8 million population lives in poverty.