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Tajik President Reelected in Landslide Victory

Tajikistan's electoral commission on Thursday announced a landslide victory for the country's incumbent president in a vote criticized by international observers.

President Emomali Rakhmon won 83.6 percent of the vote, commission spokesman Adumanon Dodayev told The Associated Press.

International monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, criticized the vote, saying that state media had been dominated by coverage of Rakhmon's campaign and that registration requirements were designed to limit competition.

"While quiet and peaceful, this was an election without a real choice," Gerdana Comic, Special Coordinator for the OSCE mission, said in a news conference in Dushanbe. The government has drawn criticism for its crackdown on dissent and its tight grip on the media.

The president's closest rival only took 5 percent of the vote. His more vocal critics were ousted from the race on technical grounds. Rights activist Oinihol Bobonazarova was denied registration after the electoral commission claimed she had failed to gather enough signatures to run.

Remaining opposition candidates waged lackluster campaigns and voiced little criticism after the official results were released.

"There were some insignificant flaws and shortcomings, but nothing that could have truly influenced the results," said Olimdzhon Boboyev of the Economic Reform Party, who polled at 3.9 percent.

Tajikistan, which borders China and Afghanistan, has proven a strategically important ally for the U.S. and Russia and has allowed coalition troops and cargo to travel to and from Afghanistan over its territory.

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