Otahon Latifi, one of the top leaders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), was gunned down yesterday in downtown Dushanbe by unidentified perpetrators. The 62-year-old Latifi headed the UTO’s secular-liberal component allied with the Islamic movement. He was also the UTO’s top representative on the National Reconciliation Commission’s committee on legal affairs, which is mandated to draft the country’s new constitution and other laws. The government and the opposition reacted in unison, describing the assassination as probably designed to derail pacification and re-ignite conflict (International agencies, September 22).
Latifi was a professional journalist who had worked as a correspondent of the central Soviet press in Tajikistan. He sided with the democratic and pro-independence forces during the civil conflicts of 1991-93, served briefly as deputy prime minister and went into exile following the Russian-assisted victory of leftist forces. During the ensuing period Latifi resisted Dushanbe’s attempts to split his secular group. Last year he participated along with the Islamic opposition leaders in the negotiations that finalized the inter-Tajik pacification agreements. The implementation of those agreements has proven extremely difficult and lags behind schedule.–VS
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