(QHA) - Voters in Tajikistan are casting their ballots, with incumbent President Imomali Rakhmon widely expected to win a new seven-year term, according to BBC. The authoritarian leader has been in office for more than 20 years in the impoverished former Soviet republic. The EU and the US have not recognised a single election in the Central Asian country as free and fair. To be noted, Mr Rakhmon, who secured 79% of the vote in the 2006 election, did not campaign actively this time. Instead, the president relied on extensive media coverage of his visits around the country, which his opponents say was heavily biased in his favour. The opposition accuses Mr Rakhmon - whose huge billboards are seen everywhere in the capital Dushanbe and other towns - of developing a personality cult. He denies the claim. Human rights activists Oynihol Bobonazarova - widely seen as the only genuine opposition candidate - is banned from the polls. Despite the expected easy victory, critics say Mr Rakhmon will face rising social tension in the country where some 50% of the population live in poverty. As reported, polls across the mountainous country were due to open at 01:00 GMT and close at 15:00 GMT. Preliminary results are expected on Thursday.