Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov announced on March 10 that he is joining the People’s Democratic Party. According to the announcement, Rahmonov took this step "in order to strengthen the [party’s] political and ideological work." With Rahmonov in attendance, the PDP’s Executive Committee scheduled a party congress for next month. A PDP spokesman stated that the party’s core presently consists of economic officials. The PDP will stand for strengthening the secular state, an "evolutionary approach" to market reforms, lending those reforms a "social character," and development of "various forms of ownership." (RIA, Itar-Tass, March 10) These economic planks are post-Soviet code words for retention of a strong state sector. The congress is likely to elect Rahmonov as party leader.
The president’s step in effect refloats the PDP, which was set up in 1993 to provide a minimal appearance of pluralism after Rahmonov’s Kulob clan had prevailed in the civil war. The party has since been dormant, in a rubber-stamp parliament. With the national reconciliation process now underway, Tajikistan is headed for parliamentary elections. Rahmonov’s step in joining the PDP suggests that he has slated it for the role of presidential party and, implicitly, main "secular" political force in the planned elections.
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