Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 144

President Imomali Rahmonov yesterday chaired a special session of the heads of "power" ministries, military and security force commanders, and veteran Popular Front commanders still loyal to him. The session’s participants discussed a mutiny launched in western and southern Tajikistan on July 20 by the Army’s 1st (rapid deployment) and 11th brigades, commanded by Colonels Mahmud Hudoiberdiev and Umar Murchayev, and backed by their supporters in these two areas.

In Shahrinau, west of Dushanbe, the mutineers have created an "autonomous defense council" chaired by Hudoiberdiev protege, Sherali Mirzoyev, whose political base is in Kurgan-Tube south of Dushanbe. Their demands include administrative control over that southern region, and reconsideration of the government’s consent to allow some 450 opposition fighters to enter Dushanbe as security for the opposition’s delegates to the planned National Reconciliation Commission. At the same time, the message to Rahmonov from Shahrinau expressed rhetorical support for the president’s policy and the June 27 peace agreement with the opposition. Rahmonov yesterday refused to recognize the "autonomous defense council" and warned that its leaders are liable to prosecution if they "take actions that would damage peace and conciliation" — a cautious formula that seems to leave the door open for talks with the mutineers.

In a coincidental development, the government yesterday confirmed recent reports that renegade field commander Rizvon Sodirov has reconstituted a detachment and is currently operating in the Faizabad-Nurek area southeast of Dushanbe. The government pledged to continue pursuing the "dangerous criminal terrorist." (Russian agencies, July 23)

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