President Imomali Rahmonov on February 17 and 18 publicly demanded that the United Tajik Opposition take action against its own supporters who allegedly violate the military agreements between the government and the UTO. Rahmonov complained that opposition field commanders who control the eastern approaches to Dushanbe refuse to withdraw their detachments to sites, prepared for them by the government, at distances of up to fifty kilometers from the capital. Russian Ambassador Yevgeny Belov publicly endorsed the government’s demands.
The opposition commanders — Rahmon Songinov, Mansur, and Pirmohmad Aliev — advance preconditions: the return of a 500-strong UTO detachment from Afghanistan, the return of political leader Akbar Turanjozoda from Iran, the release of remaining political detainees by the government and completion of the government reshuffle whereby UTO should receive 30 percent of the posts.
All these points represent the government’s commitments under the 1997 agreements with UTO. The latter is by the same token obligated to redeploy its forces at pre-arranged sites, partially demobilize them and merge their remnants with government forces. UTO political and military leaders are evidently reluctant to carry out their military obligations before the agreements before the government has complied with its political commitments. The government would like the disarmament of the opposition to outpace the redistribution of political power.(See Monitor, February 12 and 13)
Meanwhile the UN Observer Mission has announced the withdrawal of its teams from the Garm, Kalaikumb and Horog areas, where opposition forces are entrenched. The Mission’s step became inevitable after the government denied it permission to use aircraft for supplying the observer teams in those distant areas. (Russian and international agencies, February 14-18; Iran Radio, February 16)
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