Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 98

Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov announced yesterday that he has decided to schedule a presidential election by November 6 at the latest, a constitutional referendum in the course of 1999, and parliamentary elections by February 2000 at the latest, under an electoral law to be drafted by the present parliament. Rahmonov urged the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to go along with this agenda in the interest of pacification and national reconciliation. The president is a declared candidate for reelection; and has headed since last year an official party which he formed with an eye to the parliamentary elections (Itar-Tass, May 19).

The president’s electoral timetable lags by a full year behind the schedule envisioned in the 1997 inter-Tajik agreements which ended the civil war. The Contact Group of guarantor countries, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have repeatedly urged Tajikistan to prepare the conditions for holding a free and fair referendum and elections. The UN Security Council also did so last week (see the Monitor, May 18). Rahmonov’s statement yesterday seems to react to that call while ignoring its essence–the need to prepare adequate conditions.

The president and his party have everything to gain from holding the elections as quickly as possible. The opposition parties have yet to be legalized. The existing constitutional setup excludes religious parties and thus the Islamic Revival Party, which is the main component of the UTO and in no sense a “fundamentalist” party. The mass media and communications systems are a virtual monopoly of the government. The 1997 agreement on power-sharing–under which the opposition was to receive 30 percent of central and local government posts–is still a long way from implementation at the central level and unimplemented at local levels.

The Leninabad region–Tajikistan’s most populous and secularized, the interests of which differ from those of Rahmonov’s clientele–is also severely marginalized under present arrangements and subject to electoral manipulation. The holding of elections under Rahmonov’s timetable would enable the government to rig the results almost at its discretion and continue its narrowly-based rule. That situation would in turn perpetuate the government’s dependence on the support of Russian troops stationed in Tajikistan.

The Monitor is a publication of the Jamestown Foundation. It is researched and written under the direction of senior analysts Jonas Bernstein, Vladimir Socor, Stephen Foye, and analysts Ilya Malyakin, Oleg Varfolomeyev and Ilias Bogatyrev. If you have any questions regarding the content of the Monitor, please contact the foundation. If you would like information on subscribing to the Monitor, or have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us by e-mail at pubs@jamestown.org, by fax at 301-562-8021, or by postal mail at The Jamestown Foundation, 4516 43rd Street NW, Washington DC 20016. Unauthorized reproduction or redistribution of the Monitor is strictly prohibited by law. Copyright (c) 1983-2002 The Jamestown Foundation Site Maintenance by Johnny Flash Productions