A recently formed Party for the Economic and Political Renewal of Tajikistan (PEPRT) announced yesterday that it has joined the United Tajik Opposition. UTO is a coalition comprised of the Party of Islamic Rebirth, the Democratic Party (a smaller, secular grouping), and the Lali Badahshon movement (which seeks to represent the population of the mountainous Badahshon Autonomous Region in the east of the country).
PEPRT’s accession to UTO is significant on several counts. First, the party is led by a private entrepreneur–Valijon Babaev–and favors market reforms. Second, it is based in the town of Chkalov in Leninabad region, northwestern Tajikistan. Leninabad is the country’s most populous and most advanced region, but is deprived of due representation in government. Thirdly, the PEPRT–like most of Leninabad region’s population–is secular. The emergence of PEPRT should contribute to dispelling the perception that the UTO is “retrograde” or based narrowly in the east of the country.
In a related development bearing on Leninabad region, the Supreme Court of Tajikistan has upheld the death sentences it passed last month on six Leninabad residents accused of terrorism. The six, and nine codefendants sentenced to prison, are supporters of former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajonov’s National Revival bloc that speaks for Leninabad region’s interests. (Radio Dushanbe, April 17; Russian agencies, April 20; see Monitor, March 13 and April 3) –VS
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