The Tajik government and opposition disagreed on the decisive political issues at an overdue meeting of the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on October 24. The government side insisted on defining the state as “secular” and, consequently, as banning “religious” parties. This would preclude the participation of the Movement for Islamic Revival, the main opposition party, in the country’s political life. The opposition has proposed various compromise formulae that would stop short of describing the state as either secular or Islamic.
The government side sought to deny amnesty to some of the opposition’s fighters on the grounds that their involvement in combat during the civil war was “criminal” and “terrorist.” The opposition, for its part, argued that combatants on either side are not liable for prosecution, except those accused of common crimes such as rape, drug trafficking or ordinary banditry.
Stalemate also continued on allotting to the opposition its due share of 30 percent of government posts at the regional and local level, authorizing the operation of political parties banned by the government after the 1992 seizure of power, and lifting the ban on opposition media (Itar-Tass and other Russian agencies, October 24).
The opposition has never introduced Islamic law or other trappings of an “Islamic state” in the parts of the country under its control. The NRC session was supposed to prepare joint government-opposition proposals for enactment at the upcoming session of parliament, a body controlled by the president and government. The government wants the opposition to complete its disarmament before any serious discussions on constitutional and power-sharing arrangements. The opposition for its part is apprehensive that the government would become even more obdurate, once its military supremacy is assured. The stalemate has already delayed reestablishing a multiparty system and holding elections. –VS
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