Government troops have landed from the air near Hujand and are also advancing on land toward that city, Tajikistan’s second-largest, seized yesterday by rebels invading from Uzbekistan (see the Monitor, November 4). The government has issued an ultimatum demanding the rebels’ surrender and reserving the right to use full force against them. Meanwhile the rebel leader, ex-Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev, has issued the following demands to the Dushanbe government: general amnesty for “political detainees,” including those involved on any side in the 1992-97 civil war; formation of a new government with 40 percent representation of “our side,” apparently meaning Leninabad region (whose administrative center Hujand is); an extraordinary session of the parliament to be held in Hujand in order to settle major political issues; creation of a “national council” of all political forces, with balanced representation of the regions; an opportunity for former Prime Minister Abumalik Abdullajonov to address the country on television. The demands have a marked regionalist tinge and also appear calculated to appeal to the Islamic Opposition (ORT, NTV, November 4).
Hudoberdiev announced that he heads a political group called Movement for General Peace, which is holding talks with “Leninabad regional leaders.” He did not clarify whether the latter are Dushanbe’s appointees in Hujand or genuine regional representatives. From his headquarters at the Chkalov military airport outside Hujand, Hudoberdiev is granting interviews by telephone to Russian, Tajik and Western journalists.
The Russian and Uzbek governments issued statements of similar wording, expressing strong support for President Imomali Rahmonov and obliquely approving the use of force against the rebels. The United Tajik Opposition offered to add its forces to those of the government in resisting the rebellion (Itar-Tass, Western agencies, November 4, 5).–VS
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