Tajikistan to hold 'President for life' referendum

Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon to hold referendum to propose unlimited presidential term for himself, extend ban on main opposition party and allow son to run for election in 2020

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikstan addresses the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2010

Tajikistan will hold a referendum on May 22 in a proposition to approve a series of amendments that will allow President Emomali Rahmon unlimited presidential terms and extending a ban on the main opposition party.

The government, dominated by Rahmon’s allies, has submitted a package of constitutional amendments which will be approved by a referendum.

The vote was announced on Wednesday by the former Soviet Republic’s parliament, after receiving approval from the constitutional court.

Without the new proposal to grant him the right to stand as often as he wishes, Rahmon would be unable to run again in 2020.

In the referendum, Tajiks will have a single vote on a package of amendments that includes cutting the minimum age for presidential candidates from 35 to 30. Rahmon’s son, Rustam Emomali, will be 33 when his father’s term finishes.

A third amendment will ask for the ban of political parties from being established based on religious platforms, which will prevent the main opposition, the Islamic Renaissance Party, from reforming after being outlawed last year.

The proposed changes seem most likely to pass.

Since Rakhmon took power in 1994, Tajikistan has never held an election judged free and fair, with Western observers citing frequent ballot-box stuffing.

The Islamic Renaissance Party was accused of being linked to a failed coup last September led by a general, Abduhalim Nazarzoda, who was killed along with 37 supporters in clashes with government forces.

Tajikistan is facing economic difficulties from recession in Russia and from declining prices for aluminium and cotton, its main commodity exports.

TRTWorld, Reuters