The Party of National Unity (PNU), which aspires to represent the Leninabad region’s interests and is headed by the exiled former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajonov, was banned yesterday by the Supreme Court of Tajikistan. It was President Imomali Rahmonov’s office which announced and justified the court’s decision. The court cited a variety of technical reasons for the ban. The presidential office additionally accused the PNU of involvement in last month’s armed rebellion in Leninabad region (Russian agencies, December 9).
Founded in 1994, composed largely of ethnic Uzbeks from that northern region, and gravitating toward neighboring Uzbekistan, the PNU called for an equitable division of power and spoils among Tajikistan’s regions. The Leninabad region smarted after its elite had been displaced from power in favor of the Kulob clan. Abdullajonov moved to Moscow and ultimately to Tashkent, from where he sought a role as “third force” in the negotiations on power-sharing between the Kulob-controlled Dushanbe government and the United Opposition.
The ban on the PNU bodes ill for the prospects of national reconciliation, which can only succeed if it takes into account the interests of regions and ethnic groups. The compromise now taking shape is, essentially, one between the southern Kulob on the one hand and the north-central Karategin, the cradle of the United Opposition, on the other. Leninabad remains marginalized and resentful. A purely bilateral deal can in the end prove a trap for the United Opposition by leaving it face-to-face with the stronger ruling group and its Russian supporters.
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