The United Tajik Opposition favors postponing a national decision on whether Tajikistan is to become a secular or an Islamic state, UTO first deputy chairman Akbar Turajonzoda stated yesterday. While calling for removal of the term "secular state" from the constitution, "so as to adjust that document to the realities of Tajik society," Turajonzoda suggested that he would not insist on the formula "Islamic state." He proposed describing the state in the new constitution as a "popular and democratic state based on the rule of law." A compromise along these lines could bridge the gap between official Dushanbe and the UTO and would give the people of Tajikistan the time and opportunity to "understand more clearly the meaning of the terms ‘secular’ and ‘Islamic.’" With time, the question of an Islamic or a secular state should be put to a referendum, Turajonzoda proposed. (Itar-Tass, February 22)
Turajonzoda, the UTO’s main political strategist and negotiator, is expected to return to Dushanbe from Iran this week. He is in line for a First Deputy Prime Minister’s position under the political agreements between the Dushanbe authorities and the UTO President. Imomali Rahmonov has recently been challenging the UTO with growing urgency to define its position oil the issue of an Islamic versus a secular state.
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