Tajik president Imomali Rahmonov and United Tajik Opposition chairman Saidabdullo Nuri, meeting in Hostdeh, northeastern Afghanistan, on December 10-11, signed a ceasefire agreement, effective as of today. It envisages a disengagement of forces in the Jirgatal, Kataregin, Garm, and Tavildara areas of central Tajikistan, demilitarization of the district centers, free movement on the crucial east-west highway, a joint government-opposition customs and crossing post on the Tajik-Kyrgyz border, exchange of prisoners, and monitoring by the UN military observer mission. Some government units appear to be exempted from the disengagement provisions. The initial reports, all by Russian agencies, are confused on the details.
The ceasefire will be in force until the two leaders meet again in Moscow on December 19 to work out a political agreement on settling the inter-Tajik conflict, and it will be extended if they then agree to meet again in late December to sign the political agreement. A draft of that agreement, initialed yesterday, provides at least in part for creating a national reconciliation commission to be chaired by the opposition. The commission’s powers shall be defined in the political agreement due to be finalized in Moscow. A joint working group has been tasked to develop that document. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, December 11)
Previous ceasefire agreements have foundered on details, while the political agreement has remained elusive because of Dushanbe’s refusal to share political power with the opposition and accept free elections. The current military situation on the threshold of winter should motivate both sides to observe the ceasefire at least generally, while perhaps continuing to jockey for local gains. The prospects of a political agreement, however, look poor in light of indications that Dushanbe continues to see the National Conciliation Commission as largely symbolic, whereas the opposition insists on creating real power-sharing bodies.
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