Tajikistan president’s loyalists expected to dominate vote

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MOSCOW (AP) — Voters in Tajikistan are casting ballots for the lower house of parliament in an election expected to be overwhelmingly dominated by loyalists of the strongman president.

Although there was little campaigning or advertising before Sunday’s election, voter turnout was reportedly high — the central elections commission said 47% of the electorate had voted by midday.

President Emomali Rahmon’s party holds 51 of the 63 seats in the lower parliament house and is seen as likely to have similar strength in the new parliament. Six smaller parties also are competing.

Rahmon has led Tajikistan since 1992, when the country was immersed in a civil war that erupted after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Rahmon has gradually strengthened his grip on the country — a 2016 referendum eliminated presidential term limits as well as banning faith-based parties. Tajikistan until 2015 had Central Asia’s only legal Islamist party.

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