Joint statement issued on Tajikistan parliamentary elections

DUSHANBE, 28 February 2000 -- The following joint statement was issued by the UN/OSCE joint election observation mission to the 27 February 2000 parliamentary elections in the Republic of Tajikistan.
The 27 February 2000 election to the Parliament (Majilisi Namoyandagon) of the Republic of Tajikistan, the first multi-party election in the history of the country, marked an important benchmark in the implementation of the General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord. The most significant accomplishment in this peace-building step was the inclusion of the former warring parties and others in the electoral process.

In general, political plurality was ensured through the participation of six parties and a number of independent candidates in this transitional electoral process. This contrasted sharply with the limited choice offered to voters during previous elections and marked an improvement in the democratic development of Tajikistan. However, Tajikistan must improve the process in order to meet the minimum democratic standards for equal, fair, free, secret, transparent, and accountable elections.

The election took place within a new legislative framework that failed to secure these standards, in particular so far as the independence of election commissions and the transparency of the vote count and tabulation of results are concerned.

The campaign period was marred by violent incidents in which one prominent candidate was assassinated in Dushanbe. As a result, security situation deteriorated in and around the capital and in some outlying regions.

State organs, in particular regional and local administration officials, interfered in the preparations for and conduct of the elections in a manner not foreseen in law and contradicting international standards for democratic elections.

In general, campaign activities were limited, partly as a result of low campaign funding limits, restricting the ability of political parties and candidates to campaign effectively.

The legislative and regulatory framework for the media is inadequate. While, the State-owned TV provided free air-time to parties competing in the election, it failed to provide balanced news and editorial coverage of the campaign. In general, at national and regional levels, both publicly and privately funded broadcast as well as print media failed to provide voters with unbiased information.

On election day, the JEOMT received very few reports of security incidents, an achievement that cannot be underestimated. While some polling procedures were conducted properly, important control provisions during the voting were violated. Moreover, in 78% of precincts observed, Hukomat representatives were present in polling stations. More significantly, the extremely high voter turnout figures (87%) announced by the CCER two hours before the closing of polling stations and their unofficial forecast of more than 96% expected turnout by the end of polling cast serious doubt over the integrity of the voting results.

The international community stands ready to continue the cooperation with the Parliament, the Government and other authorities of Tajikistan with a view to addressing the concerns and recommendations contained in this statement and forthcoming reports.

This statement is also available in Tajik and Russian. The English text remains the only official version.

JEOMT Information

A statement of preliminary findings and conclusions (attached) was released today by the Joint UN/OSCE Election Observation Mission to Tajikistan (JEOMT). The JEOMT is a joint effort of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the United Nations (UN), in accordance with the 1997 General Agreement on the Establishment of Peace and National Accord in Tajikistan. Ambassador Zenon Kuchciak, seconded by Poland, heads the JEOMT.

This preliminary statement is based on the findings of the JEOMT established in mid-January with 27 long-term observers based in Dushanbe and five regions throughout Tajikistan. The findings include the pre-election preparations, the election campaign, and the media. This statement is also based on the election-day findings of the JEOMT?s more than 80 short-term observers. They visited some 300 polling stations out of the 2,761 across Tajikistan.

The JEOMT wishes to express appreciation to the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), the OSCE Mission in Tajikistan, and Japan, Germany, US, Switzerland, and the UK for their generous logistical and financial support. The JEOMT is grateful to the UN Member States, OSCE participating States, and other international organizations for their generous contribution of long-term and short-term observers to the mission.

The JEOMT wishes to express appreciation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the Central Commission on Elections and Referenda of Tajikistan for their assistance and cooperation during the course of the observation.

A complete text of the joint statement issued by the Joint Election Observation Mission to Tajikistan is available on the OSCE/ODIHR website: http://www.osce/org/odihr

For further information, please contact:
Ambassador Zenon Kuchciak, Head of the JEOMT in Dushanbe (+7 3772 21 07 02), until 6 March;
Mr. Nicolas Kaczorovski, OSCE/ODIHR Election Officer in Warsaw (+48 22 520 0600);
Ms. Carina Perelli, UN EAD/DPA in New York (+1 212 963 8737).
22, Bukhoro Street
Dushanbe Tajikistan
Tel.:+7 3772 21 07 02
Fax:+7 3772 21 52 68
e-mail:jeomt_dushanbe@yahoo.com (until March 7)