Asia

Tajikistan vote allows president to rule indefinitely

  • Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon arrives at a polling station in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Tajikistan holds a referendum on changing the constitution to allow Rakhmon to remain in office for life and to make it easier for his eldest son to succeed him as leader of the former Soviet republic in Central Asia. (Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)

    Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon arrives at a polling station in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Tajikistan holds a referendum on changing the constitution to allow Rakhmon to remain in office for life and to make it easier for his eldest son to succeed him as leader of the former Soviet republic in Central Asia. (Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon casts his ballot at a polling station in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Tajikistan holds a referendum on changing the constitution to allow Rakhmon to remain in office for life and to make it easier for his eldest son to succeed him as leader of the former Soviet republic in Central Asia. (Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)

    Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon casts his ballot at a polling station in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. Tajikistan holds a referendum on changing the constitution to allow Rakhmon to remain in office for life and to make it easier for his eldest son to succeed him as leader of the former Soviet republic in Central Asia. (Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo taken on Monday, May  16, 2016, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon speaks during a meeting with the heads of exclusive companies in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. People in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan have voted overwhelmingly to approve changes to the Constitution allowing the authoritarian president to rule indefinitely. Elections officials said Monday, May 23 that an initial count showed 94.5 percent of voters had supported amendments that included a provision to scrap presidential term limits. (Nakib Murodov/Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)

    In this photo taken on Monday, May 16, 2016, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon speaks during a meeting with the heads of exclusive companies in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. People in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan have voted overwhelmingly to approve changes to the Constitution allowing the authoritarian president to rule indefinitely. Elections officials said Monday, May 23 that an initial count showed 94.5 percent of voters had supported amendments that included a provision to scrap presidential term limits. (Nakib Murodov/Tajikistan Presidential Press Service via AP)  (The Associated Press)

People in the Central Asian nation of Tajikistan have voted overwhelmingly to approve changes to the Constitution allowing the authoritarian president to rule indefinitely.

Elections officials said Monday that an initial count showed 94.5 percent of voters had supported amendments that included a provision to scrap presidential term limits.

The referendum was held with only cursory international scrutiny. No election in Tajikistan has ever been deemed free and fair by the most thorough monitoring organization.

Sunday's referendum came amid an intense onslaught against fundamental political freedoms in the former Soviet state. Almost the entire leadership of the most popular opposition party has been tried over an alleged attempted coup and they are awaiting lengthy jail sentences.

Emomali Rakhmon, a 63-year-old former collective farm boss, has ruled Tajikistan since 1992.