In a development that may herald a new stage in the inter-Tajik conflict, President Imomali Rahmonov and United Opposition chief of staff Dovlat Usmon met in Dushanbe yesterday to review progress in the implementation of last December’s armistice agreement. Usmon and an opposition delegation verified compliance with the armistice in the Karategin and Jirgatal regions, wrested by the opposition from the government last year. Under the armistice agreement, opposition forces remain in place and man a border and customs post facing Kyrgyzstan, while Dushanbe-appointed civilian authorities have been allowed to return to district centers. Both sides have also withdrawn most of their posts from the vital east-west highway, which is now largely free for civilian traffic.
The opposition has freed at least 200 captured government soldiers. But it continues to hold 240, while the government has released only a few of the smaller number of prisoners that it held in the first place. Some 400 opposition supporters are also being held as political prisoners in Dushanbe’s jails. Usmon called for full compliance with the armistice through withdrawal of the government’s remaining highway checkpoints, completion of the all-for-all exchange of prisoners and detainees, and promulgation of a general amnesty by Dushanbe. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, February 3)
In addition, Usmon inspected the area with Dushanbe’s Security Council secretary, Amirkul Azimov. They co-chair the armistice control commission. UN military monitors returned to Garm and Horog last week, and are now also expected to return to Tavildara. Also last week, the UN Security Council confirmed Poland’s Maj. Gen. Boleslaw Izydorczyk as the new commander of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT), replacing Jordan’s Brig. Gen. Hassan Abaza. Government and opposition delegation are scheduled to hold political talks this month.
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