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Tajikistan's leader set to extend his rule in presidential vote

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, Emomali Rakhmon, President of Tajikistan, gestures during a news conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Berlin, Germany. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in the vote on Wednesday Nov. 6th, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 file photo, Emomali Rakhmon, President of Tajikistan, gestures during a news conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Berlin, Germany. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in the vote on Wednesday Nov. 6th, 2013. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 file photo people walk under a giant portrait of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in the vote on Wednesday Nov. 6th, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

    FILE - In this Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2006 file photo people walk under a giant portrait of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Emomali Rakhmon, 61, who has led the mountainous, Sunni Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China for more than two decades, is all but certain to win a fourth presidential term in the vote on Wednesday Nov. 6th, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Friday Nov. 3, 2006 file photo, children gather water from a open canal in the town of Dosti, in southern Tajikistan. While the Tajik economy has gradually recovered to its Soviet-era level and has been growing over the past few years, the country remains one of the poorest nations in the former Soviet Union. Tajikistan is holding a presidential election on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

    FILE - In this Friday Nov. 3, 2006 file photo, children gather water from a open canal in the town of Dosti, in southern Tajikistan. While the Tajik economy has gradually recovered to its Soviet-era level and has been growing over the past few years, the country remains one of the poorest nations in the former Soviet Union. Tajikistan is holding a presidential election on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)  (The Associated Press)

Voters in Tajikistan are casting ballots in a presidential election that is all but certain to extend the incumbent's rule after officials barred the only real opposition candidate from the race.

President Emomali Rakhmon, 61, is running for a fourth term in Wednesday's vote in the mountainous Muslim nation neighboring Afghanistan and China. Rakhmon has led the impoverished ex-Soviet country for more than two decades.

The remaining five challengers all have praised Rakhmon.

For many years, Rakhmon's government has cracked down on dissent and maintained tight control over the media, drawing harsh criticism from international rights groups.

The Tajik authorities have sought to exploit public fears of a replay of a bloody civil war in the 1990s, casting the opposition as a threat to the country's stability.