In a statement distributed in Dushanbe on May 29, the U.S. State Department urged Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov to veto the parliament’s recently enacted ban on parties of a religious character. The State Department further urged Rahmonov, his government and the parliament to accelerate the appointment of Opposition representatives to the government. The statement pointed out that free operation of the political parties and the allotment of government seats to the Opposition are stipulated in the 1997 peace agreements. The statement from Washington made clear that the promised international economic assistance to Tajikistan would only be forthcoming if the peace agreements are fully complied with.
On the same day, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a less categorical statement which nevertheless came down on balance in favor of an “undeviating implementation” of the peace agreements. Although denouncing the alleged threat of “religious extremism,” Moscow’s intercession for reinstatement of the opposition Islamic Rebirth Party opens a gap between the Russian and Uzbek positions regarding Tajikistan.
Visiting Dushanbe on May 29, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Michel Camdessus also publicly implied that the disbursement of the promised US$120 million in successive tranches is conditional on Dushanbe’s observance of the peace agreements. Camdessus met not only with government but also with Opposition leaders. (Russian and international agencies, May 29 and 30)
KYRGYZSTAN SLIGHTLY BACKPEDALS ON ANTI-ISLAMIC CAMPAIGN.