Tajikistan’s president Emomali Rakhmonov has signed a decree pardoning Democratic party leader Shodmon Yusuf and deputy leaders Oinihol Bobonazarova and Bozor Sobir and ordering their release from jail. The president claimed to have been "guided by the principles of humanism and mercy" and the fact that the three opposition leaders "have acknowledged their unlawful actions and expressed support for the political, social, and economic reforms being implemented in the republic." In separate letters to the court and the prosecutor’s office, Rakhmonov urged them to take into account Bobonazarova’s family status and her professional standing as a law professor at Dushanbe University, as well as Sobir’s popularity as a poet and his contribution to the development of Tajik literature. (18) Bobonazarova and Sobir have been in jail since 1993. The Democratic party was the secular component of the Islamic-democratic coalition that governed Tajikistan in 1992 until overthrown by procommunist forces with Russian military support. Many Democratic Party members went underground or abroad, while a splinter group currently collaborates with the regime in Dushanbe. The Tajik authorities presented the pardon of the three opposition leaders as a goodwill gesture to facilitate the resumption of the fifth round of inter-Tajik negotiations. The negotiations opened in Ashgabat 30 November 1995, but were suspended December 22. Due to reconvene January 15, they were again postponed amid persisting differences.
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