GOVERNMENT OF TAJIKISTAN
On the surface Tajikistan is a parliamentary republic lead by a strong president. Below the surface it is authoritarian and defined by a power-sharing agreements among clans and warlords. All administrative powers are centered in executive branch (president and Council of Ministers, appointed by president). Many Communist institutions remain in place. Democracy really doesn't exist.
The International Crisis Group think tank has described Tajikistan as a country on the road to becoming a failed state. Its infrastructure is falling apart, Soviet-era hospitals and schools are crumbling. [Source: Roman Kozhevnikov, Reuters, February 19, 2010 <=>]
Tajikistan is a republic with three branches of government dominated by the executive branch. The current constitution was adopted in 1994 and amended significantly in 1999 and 2003. Political stability has improved since the civil war ended in 1997, but in order to gain control of certain areas, the central government has compromised and forged alliances among regional factions and clans, which retain substantial political influence. Particularly important is the rivalry between politicians of the northern regions and those of the south; the accumulated power of southerner President Imomali Rahmon’s clique has caused substantial resentment in the north, which had held a dominant position in the Soviet era. In 2006 Rahmon easily won a new seven-year term as president in an election that was boycotted by all major opposition parties. Bribery and nepotism are endemic in the political system. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
Government type: republic. Capital: name: Dushanbe. Independence: 9 September 1991 (from the Soviet Union).Constitution: several previous; latest adopted 6 November 1994; amended 1999, 2003 (2009). [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Administrative divisions: 2 provinces (viloyatho, singular - viloyat), 1 autonomous province* (viloyati mukhtor), 1 capital region** (viloyati poytakht), and 1 area referred to as Districts Under Republic Administration***; Dushanbe**, Khatlon (Qurghonteppa), Kuhistoni Badakhshon [Gorno-Badakhshan]* (Khorugh), Nohiyahoi Tobei Jumhuri***, Sughd (Khujand). [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Names, Flag and National Anthem of Tajikistan
Formal Name: Republic of Tajikistan (local form: Jumhurii Tojikiston). Short Form: Tajikistan (local form: Tojikiston). Former name (under the Soviet Union): Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic Term for Citizen(s): Tajikistani(s).Tajiks are an ethnic group. Citizens of Tajikistan are officially refereed are to as Tajikistanis. “Tajik” officially refers to the Tajik ethnic group although it can also refer to Tajikistan citizens.
The flag of Tajikistan features three horizontal stripes: a wide middle white stripe with narrower red (top) and green stripes. Centered in the white stripe is a golden crown topped by seven gold, five-pointed stars. Red represents the sun, victory, and the unity of the nation; white stands for purity, cotton, and mountain snows, while green is the color of Islam and the bounty of nature; the crown symbolizes the Tajik people; the seven stars signify the Tajik magic number "seven" — a symbol of perfection and the embodiment of happiness. [Source: CIA World Factbook, Library of Congress]
National anthem: name: "Surudi milli" (National Anthem). The lyrics are by Gulnazar Keldi and the music is by Suleiman Yudakov. The song was adopted 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan kept the music of the anthem from its time as a Soviet republic but adopted new lyrics. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
National symbol(s): crown surmounted by seven, five-pointed stars; national colors: red, white, green. The eagle or hawk has traditionally been a symbol of the Tajiks represented in the legend of the origin of the Tajik people and the folk dance: the flight of an eagle.
Government of the Tajik Republic in the Soviet Era
Kirill Nourzhanov and Christian Bleuer wrote: “The institutional foundations of the Soviet state in Tajikistan were laid in the Constitution of 1931 and were further elaborated in the Constitution of 1937, which was a carbon copy of the All-Union Constitution adopted in 1936. The republic acquired a ramified set of governmental organs that was characterised by a relatively clear-cut separation of powers and a stable structure. The official legislature of the Tajik SSR was the Supreme Soviet, elected every four years on the basis of universal suffrage by citizens over eighteen years of age. Articles 15, 22, 23 and 28 of the Constitution of 1937 conferred upon the Supreme Soviet the status of the sole authoritative law-making body of Tajikistan. Yet in reality it had little power to elaborate or endorse independent policies and acted primarily to furnish the party’s directives with a veil of legitimacy. During 1946 and 1953, in the heyday of Stalin’s command-administrative system of government, the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan was not even approached for a formal approbation of the annual plan for economic development of the republic, in direct violation of Article 15 of the Constitution. [Source: “Tajikistan: Political and Social History” by Kirill Nourzhanov, Christian Bleuer, Australia National University, 2013 ><]
“The composition of the Supreme Soviet was carefully regulated and remained stable for decades , despite an impressive turnover rate of more than 50 per cent. It was meant to emphasise the representative nature of the republican legislature, on the one hand, and its inseparable links with the party, on the other. The chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was always a member of the CPT Central Committee’s Bureau, and for many party functionaries, work in the organs of the national parliament provided a necessary step for their future career. Additionally, the Supreme Soviet served as a symbol of statehood of the Tajik nation: it usually had a distinct Tajik majority, inconsistent with the actual ethnic mosaic in the republic. ><
Composition of the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan: A) IV (1955): Number of deputies VI (1963) 300; Women: 33 percent; Workers and peasants: 47.8 percent; Party members: 71.8 percent. B) VI (1963): Number of deputies: 300; Women: 33 percent; Workers and peasants: 48 percent; Party members: 69.3 percent. C) VIII (1971: Number of deputies: 315; Women: 34 percent; Workers and peasants: 50.4 percent; Party members: 68.9 percent. D) X (1980): Number of deputies: 350; Women: 35.1 percent; Workers and peasants: 50.6 percent; Party members: 68.3 percent. [Source: Calculations are based on data provided in the Great Soviet Encyclopaedia Annuals: 1958 (p. 160); 1966 (p. 173); 1970 (p. 171); 1971 (p. 178); 1983 (p. 162)]
“Elections to the Supreme Soviet and local legislative bodies (regional, district, city and village soviets) were not contested; sometimes all 100 per cent of eligible voters turned up at polling stations and unanimously supported the candidate of the ‘bloc of communists and non-party people’. Plenary sessions of the Supreme Soviet conducted twice a year were formal and tedious affairs, where hardly any deputy would dare vote against a decision or abstain. Even during Gorbachev’s perestroika, important bills would be put to the vote and approved without discussion due to the apparent lack of interest on the part of the Tajik MPs. ><
“At the inception of the USSR in 1922, the constituent republics were given a high degree of autonomy in handling domestic matters. Maintenance of law and order, public health, education, social welfare and agriculture was within the competence of the republics’ executive institutions; the formation of dominant federal organisations was not envisaged. The republics also enjoyed broad financial independence within their share of the All-Union budget. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, however, as the country was preparing for rapid industrialisation and forced collectivisation, the republics’ autonomy was dramatically reduced, and federal and local executive bodies were transformed to fit a super-centralised chain of command based on the branch rather than the territorial principle. ><
Transition to Post-Soviet Government in Tajikistan
In the late 1980s, problems in the Soviet system had already provoked open public dissatisfaction with the status quo in Tajikistan. In February 1990, demonstrations against government housing policy precipitated a violent clash in Dushanbe. Soviet army units sent to quell the riots inflicted casualties on demonstrators and bystanders alike. Using the riots as a pretext to repress political dissent, the regime imposed a state of emergency that lasted long after the riots had ended. In this period, criticism of the regime by opposition political leaders was censored from state radio and television broadcasts. The state brought criminal charges against the leaders of the popular front organization Rastokhez (Rebirth) for inciting the riots, although the Supreme Soviet later ruled that Rastokhez was not implicated. Students were expelled from institutions of higher education merely for attending nonviolent political meetings. The events of 1990 made the opposition even more critical of the communist old guard than it had been previously. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
In the highly charged political atmosphere after the failure of the August 1991 coup attempt in Moscow, Tajikistan's Supreme Soviet voted for independence for the republic in September 1991. That vote was not intended to signal a break with the Soviet Union, however. It was rather a response to increasingly vociferous opposition demands and to similar declarations by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a development in which Tajikistan played no role, the republic joined the CIS when that loose federation of former Soviet republics was established in December 1991. *
The political opposition within Tajikistan was composed of a diverse group of individuals and organizations. The three major opposition parties were granted legal standing at various times in 1991. The highest-ranking Islamic figure in the republic, the chief qadi , Hajji Akbar Turajonzoda, sided openly with the opposition coalition beginning in late 1991. The opposition's ability to govern and the extent of its public support never were tested because it gained only brief, token representation in a 1992 coalition government that did not exercise effective authority over the entire country. *
Government in Newly Independent Tajikistan
In the early independence period, the old guard sought to depict itself as the duly elected government of Tajikistan now facing a power grab by Islamic radicals who would bring to Tajikistan fundamentalist repression similar to that occurring in Iran and Afghanistan. Yet both claims were misleading. The elections for the republic's Supreme Soviet and president had been neither free nor truly representative of public opinion. The legislative election was held in February 1990 under the tight constraints of the state of emergency. In the presidential election of 1991, Nabiyev had faced only one opponent, filmmaker and former communist Davlat Khudonazarov, whose message had been stifled by communist control of the news media and the workplace. Despite Nabiyev's advantageous position, Khudonazarov received more than 30 percent of the vote. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
In the first half of 1992, the opposition responded to increased repression by organizing ever larger proreform demonstrations. When Nabiyev assembled a national guard force, coalition supporters, who were concentrated in the southern Qurghonteppa Province and the eastern Pamir region, acquired arms and prepared for battle. Meanwhile, opponents of reform brought their own supporters to Dushanbe from nearby Kulob Province to stage counterdemonstrations in April of that year. Tensions mounted, and small-scale clashes occurred. In May 1992, after Nabiyev had broken off negotiations with the oppositionist demonstrators and had gone into hiding, the confrontation came to a head when opposition demonstrators were fired upon and eight were killed. At that point, the commander of the Russian garrison in Dushanbe brokered a compromise. The main result of the agreement was the formation of a coalition government in which one-third of the cabinet posts would go to members of the opposition. *
For most of the rest of 1992, opponents of reform worked hard to overturn the coalition and block implementation of measures such as formation of a new legislature in which the opposition would have a voice. In the summer and fall of 1992, vicious battles resulted in many casualties among civilians and combatants. Qurghonteppa bore the brunt of attacks by antireformist irregular forces during that period. In August 1992, demonstrators in Dushanbe seized Nabiyev and forced him at gunpoint to resign. The speaker of the Supreme Soviet, Akbarsho Iskandarov--a Pamiri closely associated with Nabiyev--became acting president. Iskandarov advocated a negotiated resolution of the conflict, but he had little influence over either side. *
The political and military battles for control continued through the fall of 1992. In November the Iskandarov coalition government resigned in the hope of reconciling the contending factions. Later that month, the Supreme Soviet, still dominated by hard-liners, met in emergency session in Khujand, an antireform stronghold, to select a new government favorable to their views. When the office of president was abolished, the speaker of parliament, Imomali Rahmonov, became de facto head of government. A thirty-eight-year-old former collective farm director, Rahmonov had little experience in government. The office of prime minister went to Abdumalik Abdullojanov, a veteran hard-line politician. *
Once in possession of Dushanbe, the neo-Soviets stepped up repression. Three leading opposition figures, including Turajonzoda and the deputy prime minister in the coalition government, were charged with treason and forced into exile, and two other prominent opposition supporters were assassinated in December. There were mass arrests on nebulous charges and summary executions of individuals captured without formal arrest. Fighting on a smaller scale between the forces of the old guard and the opposition continued elsewhere in Tajikistan and across the border with Afghanistan into the mid-1990s. *
Governments in Central Asia
To varying degrees all the governments of Central Asia are authoritarian, with a strong president who possesses dictatorial powers and a largely rubber-stamp parliament. Many of these government are based on the Singapore or Pinochet model in which a strong economy is built with authoritarian leadership. With the exception of Kyrgyzstan democracy doesn't exist.
When independence was declared in 1991, none of the five republics had experienced an independence movement or had a corps of leaders who had considered how such a change might be managed. Five years after independence, in four of the states political leadership remained in the hands of the same individual as in the last years of the Soviet Union: Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakstan, Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan, Saparmyrat Niyazov in Turkmenistan, and Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan. President Imomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan was not president in 1991, but, like his cohorts, his roots were in his republic's pre-1992 political world. Political power in all five republics is based on clan and regional groupings that make national coalitions risky and fragile. Clan rivalries have played a particular role in the civil war of Tajikistan and in Akayev's difficulties in unifying Kyrgyzstan behind a reform program.* [Source: Glenn E. Curtis, Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Although all the republics had adopted new constitutions by 1995, the three government branches prescribed by those documents are severely imbalanced in favor of the executive. In all five cases, the political opposition of the early 1990s has been virtually extinguished in the name of preserving stability and preventing the putative onset of Islamic politicization. Although the new constitutions of the republics specify independent judicial branches, the concept of due process has not been established consistently anywhere.*
Lack of Democracy in Central Asia
Rulers in Central Asia have generally clung to power until they died or were forced out. There is not much of a tradition of democracy or democratic practices.
The Central Asian nations all have elections, legislatures, courts, laws and constitutions. Often they exist in name only. Decisions are made from the top, elections are rigged, courts and legislatures are filled with loyalists. KGB-like secret police continue to thrive.
One diplomat told the Washington Post that their goal in Central Asia was to teach that the presidents there that “winning the election with 60 percent of the vote is just as good as winning with 100 percent of the vote” but “they just can't internalize the point. They are complete control freaks.”
Constitution and Government Structure in Tajikistan
Constitution: several previous; latest adopted 6 November 1994; amended 1999, 2003 (2009). [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
In 1994 Tajikistan adopted a new constitution that restored the office of president, transformed the Soviet-era Supreme Soviet into the Supreme Assembly (Majlisi Oli), recognized civil liberties and property rights, and provided for a judiciary that was not fully independent. Like constitutions of the Soviet era, the document did not necessarily constrain the actual exercise of power. For example, the mechanism by which the constitution was formally adopted was a referendum held in November 1994. Balloting occurred simultaneously with the vote for president, even though that office could not legally exist until and unless the constitution was ratified. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Independent Tajikistan's initial government conformed to the traditional Soviet formula of parliamentary-ministerial governance and complete obeisance to the regime in Moscow. The office of president of the republic was established in 1990, following the example set by the central government in Moscow. Until the establishment of the short-lived coalition government in 1992, virtually all government positions were held by communist party members. After December 1992, power was in the hands of factions opposed to reform. Former allies in that camp then contended among themselves for power. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The Council of Ministers and the prime minister manage government activities in accordance with the laws and decrees of the president and the Supreme Assembly. The judiciary includes the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Economic Court, and the Military Court as well as subordinate courts. Judges are appointed by the president. The office of the procurator general investigates and prosecutes crimes. The president appoints the heads of regional governments. [Source: Everyculture.com]
Head of Government in Tajikistan
The president is the head of state The office of president was abolished in November 1992 and reestablished in 1994. The highest executive body is Council of Ministers, whose chairman is the prime minister, a largely ceremonial position. The deputy prime minister is a member of the opposition. The National Reconciliation Commission is a parallel body set up the peace accord in 1997. It was comprised of equal number of government and opposition members but is now less influential than it was and is now dominated by the president.
Chief of state: President Emomali Rahmon (since 6 November 1994; head of state and Supreme Assembly chairman since 19 November 1992); head of government: Prime Minister Qohir Rasulzoda (since 23 November 2013). Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president, approved by the Supreme Assembly. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Rakhmon has run Tajikistan with a heavy hand since 1992 but is still struggling to provide basic goods and services to its people. His critics claim he heads a one man regime and the power-sharing system he has presided over is just a facade. Behind the scenes representatives are intimidated and the media is afraid to challenge him. During the Tajikistan civil war Rahmon ran a hard-line Communist government propped up by the Russian army. Rahmon has enjoyed high approval ratings. His supporters have given him credit for holding together the peace, making sure each faction gets a piece of the pie and maintaining order. He has fired officials within his government, accused of corruption, to placate the opposition.
Presidential elections are held every seven years. The last one was on November 6, 2013. The next one is in 2020. In June 2003, a referendum that allows the president to serve two terms instead of one was overwhelmingly approved by a majority of voters. The president is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for two terms). The prime minister is appointed by the president. Election results in 2013: Emomali Rahmon reelected president; percent of vote - Emomali Rahmon 83.9 percent, Ismoil Talbakov 5 percent, other 11.1 percent. =
Executive Branch in Tajikistan
The president, who is directly elected to an unlimited number of seven-year terms, is the dominant figure in the government, serving as head of the government, called the Council of Ministers, and as chairman of the parliament (the Supreme Assembly, or Majlisi Oli). The president also appoints the prime minister and all members of the Council of Ministers, with parliamentary approval. In this geographically divided country, the ceremonial position of prime minister traditionally is held by a person from the north to nominally balance President Imomali Rahmon’s southern origin. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
In 2004 the executive branch fell further under the control of the governing party as appointments by Rahmon left the opposition with only 5 percent of major government positions. This event followed the expiration of the 1997 peace guarantee that the United Tajik Opposition (UPO) would occupy at least 30 percent of top government positions.
Prior to the 2006 election, the Council of Ministers, which executes the decisions of the president, included two deputy prime ministers, 19 ministers, nine committee heads, and several ex officio members. After the election, Rahmon abolished 10 ministries and five state committees and reappointed Oqil Oqilov as prime minister. In 2003 a national referendum eliminated the constitutional two-term limitation on the current president, making Rahmon eligible to stand for re-election again in 2013. Rahmon also has accumulated substantial informal power through patronage.
The president was first chosen by legislative election in 1990. In the first direct presidential election, held in 1991, former communist party chief Rahmon Nabiyev won in a rigged vote. The office of president was abolished in November 1992, then reestablished de facto in 1994 in advance of the constitutional referendum that legally approved it. In the interim, the chairman of the Supreme Soviet, Imomali Rahmonov, was nominal chief of state. In the presidential election of November 1994, Rahmonov won a vote that was condemned by opposition parties and Western observers as fraudulent. Rahmonov's only opponent was the antireformist Abdumalik Abdullojanov, who had founded an opposition party after being forced to resign as Rahmonov's prime minister in 1993 under criticism for the country's poor economic situation. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
The Council of Ministers is responsible for management of government activities in accordance with laws and decrees of the Supreme Assembly and decrees of the president. The president appoints the prime minister and the other council members, with the nominal approval of the Supreme Assembly. In 1996 the Council of Ministers included fifteen full ministers, plus six deputy prime ministers, the chairmen of five state committees, the presidential adviser on national economic affairs, the secretary of the National Security Council, and the chairman of the National Bank of Tajikistan. *
Legislature in Tajikistan
Legislative branch: bicameral Supreme Assembly or Majlisi Oli consists of the National Assembly or Majlisi Milli (34 seats; 25 members indirectly elected by local representative assemblies or majlisi, 8 appointed by the president, and 1 reserved for the former president; members serve 5-year terms) and the Assembly of Representatives or Majlisi Namoyandagon (63 seats; 41 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by two-round absolute majority vote and 22 directly elected in a single nationwide constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 5-year terms). The 230-seat single chamber legislature, the Oli Majlis, was replaced with bicameral legislature in 2000. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Legislative elections are held every five years. Lower and upper house parliamentary elections were held in March 2000, March 2005, March 2010. National Assembly and Assembly of Representatives elections were last held on March 1, 2015 (next to be held in 2020). Results of 2015 election: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Assembly of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PDPT 65.4 percent, APT 11.7 percent, PERT 7.5 percent, SPT 5.5 percent, CPT 2.2 percent, DPT 1.7 percent, other 6 percent; seats by party - PDPT 51, APT 5, PERT 3, SPT 1, CPT 2, DPT 1. Results of 2010 election: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Assembly of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PDPT 71 percent, IRPT 8.2 percent, CPT 7 percent, APT 5.1 percent, PERT 5.1 percent, other 3.6 percent; seats by party - PDPT 55, IRPT 2, CPT 2, APT 2, PERT 2.
Legislative Branch in Tajikistan
The bicameral Supreme Assembly (Majlisi Oli) includes the 63-seat Assembly of Representatives (Majlisi Namoyandagon), which meets year-round, and the 34-seat National Assembly (Majlisi Milli), which meets at least twice per year. Until 2000 Tajikistan had a unicameral legislature. The members of the Assembly of Representatives are chosen by direct popular election to serve five-year terms. Of the 63 members of the Assembly of Representatives, 22 are elected by party, in proportion to the number of votes received by each party gaining at least 5 percent of total votes, and the remaining members are elected from single-member constituencies. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
Three-fourths of the National Assembly members are chosen by local council meetings of the four subnational jurisdictions, each of which is entitled to equal representation. The remaining members are appointed directly by the president. The pro- government People’s Democratic Party continued to control both houses of the parliament after the elections of 2005; that party gained 52 of the 63 seats in the Assembly of Representatives. In 2006 some 11 women sat in the Assembly of Representatives, and five sat in the National Assembly. Opposition factions in the Supreme Assembly have clashed with pro-government members over some issues. **
According to the 1994 constitution, any citizen at least twenty-five years of age is eligible for election. The unicameral, 230-seat Supreme Soviet elected in 1990 included 227 communists and three members from other parties. The constitution approved in November 1994 called for a unicameral, 181-seat parliament to replace the Supreme Soviet. In the first election under those guidelines, 161 deputies were chosen in February 1995 and nineteen of the remaining twenty in a second round one month later. (One constituency elected no deputy, and one elected deputy died shortly after the election.) In the 1995 parliamentary election, an estimated forty seats were uncontested, and many candidates reportedly were former Soviet regional and local officials. The sixty communist deputies who were elected gave Rahmonov solid support in the legislative branch because the majority of deputies had no declared party affiliation. Like the 1994 presidential election, the parliamentary election was not considered free or fair by international authorities. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
Judicial Branch in Tajikistan
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. The Supreme Court is the highest court. Other high courts include the Supreme Economic Court and the Constitutional Court, which decides questions of constitutionality. The president appoints the judges of these three courts, with the approval of the legislature. There is also a Military Court. The judges of all courts are appointed to 10-year terms. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007 **]
Judicial branch: highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chairman, deputy chairmen, and 34 judges organized into civil, criminal, and military chambers); Constitutional Court (consists of the court chairman, vice-president, and 5 judges); High Economic Court (consists 16 judicial positions). Judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and High Economic Court judges nominated by the president of the republic and approved by the National Assembly; judges of all 3 courts appointed for 10-year renewable terms with no limit on terms, but last appointment must occur before the age of 65. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
The 1994 constitution prescribes an independent judiciary, including at the national level the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court (theoretically, the final arbiter of the constitutionality of government laws and actions), the Supreme Economic Court, and the Military Court. The Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province has a regional court, and subordinate courts exist at the regional, district, and municipal levels. Judges are appointed to five-year terms, but theoretically they are subordinate only to the constitution and are beyond interference from elected officials. However, the president retains the power to dismiss judges, and in practice Tajikistan still lacked an independent judiciary after the adoption of the 1994 constitution. In June 1993, the Supreme Court acted on behalf of the Rahmonov regime in banning all four opposition parties and all organizations connected with the 1992 coalition government. The ban was rationalized on the basis of an accusation of the parties' complicity in attempting a violent overthrow of the government. [Source: Library of Congress, March 1996 *]
As in the Soviet system, the Office of the Procurator General has authority for both investigation and adjudication of crimes within its broad constitutional mandate to ensure compliance with the laws of the republic. Elected to a five-year term, the procurator general of Tajikistan is the superior of similar officials in lower-level jurisdictions throughout the country. *
Elections in Tajikistan
Suffrage is universal for citizens 18 years of age and older. An election law passed in 2004 has received international criticism for its restrictive candidate registration requirements. Election requires an absolute majority of votes; if no candidate gains a majority, a second round is held between the top two vote getters. By controlling the Central Election Commission, the Rahmon regime has gained substantial influence over the registration of parties, the holding of referenda, and election procedures. In 1999 and 2003, referenda of dubious fairness made constitutional changes that strengthened Rahmon’s hold on power. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007]
Presidential elections are held every seven years. The last one was on November 6, 2013. The next one is in 2020. In June 2003, a referendum that allows the president to serve two terms instead of one was overwhelmingly approved by a majority of voters. The president is elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for two terms). The prime minister is appointed by the president. Election results in 2013:Emomali Rahmon reelected president; percent of vote - Emomali Rahmon 83.9 percent, Ismoil Talbakov 5 percent, other 11.1 percent. [Source: CIA World Factbook =]
Legislative elections are held every five years. Lower and upper house parliamentary elections were held in March 2000, March 2005, March 2010. National Assembly and Assembly of Representatives elections were last held on March 1, 2015 (next to be held in 2020). The 63 members of the Assembly of Representatives were elected by two methods; 41 members were elected in single-member constituencies using the two-round system, whilst 22 seats were elected by proportional representation in a single nationwide constituency, with an electoral threshold of five percent. [Source: Wikipedia]
Results of 2015 election: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Assembly of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PDPT 65.4 percent, APT 11.7 percent, PERT 7.5 percent, SPT 5.5 percent, CPT 2.2 percent, DPT 1.7 percent, other 6 percent; seats by party - PDPT 51, APT 5, PERT 3, SPT 1, CPT 2, DPT 1. Results of 2010 election: National Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; Assembly of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PDPT 71 percent, IRPT 8.2 percent, CPT 7 percent, APT 5.1 percent, PERT 5.1 percent, other 3.6 percent; seats by party - PDPT 55, IRPT 2, CPT 2, APT 2, PERT 2.
There are about 2,700 polling stations across the country. On voting day polls are open from 6:00am to 8:00pm. A turnout of at least 50 percent is required to make the election valid. Elections are monitored by the Tajik Central Election Commission.
Regional Composition of Tajikistan’s Electorate: 1) Leninobod oblast: 31 percent; 2) Qurghonteppa oblast: 21 percent; 3) Gharm zone and eastern districts of republican subordination: 16 percent; 4) Kulob oblast: 12 percent; 5) Dushanbe: 12 percent; Hisor: 5 percent; 6) GBAO (Pamirs): 3 percent. [Source: Itogi Vsesoiuznoi perepisi naseleniia 1989 goda po Tadzhikskoi SSR, Vol. II (Dushanbe: Goskomstat TSSR, 1991), pp. 10–39]
Elections Irregularities and Political Participation in Tajikistan
International observers also found substantial irregularities in the conduct of the 1999 presidential election, in which only one opposition candidate was permitted to register, and the media were censored. Six parties participated in the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections, although in both cases observers reported state interference with the process and with opposition candidates’ access to the media. Rahmon easily won re-election in November 2006, gaining 79 percent of the vote against four little-known opponents; international monitors again found the election unfair. Three major opposition parties—the Democratic Party, the Islamic Rebirth Party, and the Social Democratic Party—boycotted the election. [Source: Library of Congress, January 2007]
According to the U.S. Department of State: “Recent Elections: There was a presidential election in November 2013. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Election Observation Mission reported that while the election was peaceful, restrictive candidate registration requirements resulted in a lack of pluralism, meaningful and genuine choice, and debate. The political opposition accused authorities of creating obstacles that prevented the opposition’s single candidate, Oynihol Bobonazarova, from successfully registering. OSCE observers noted the campaign lacked the political debate necessary for a competitive campaign environment. The authorities did not provide safeguards against the misuse of state resources. Family, proxy, and multiple voting as well as ballot stuffing were prevalent. The election observation mission criticized the legal framework for vague provisions regarding voter registration, campaigning, and election day procedures. [Source: “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2014: Tajikistan,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State \*\]
Participation of Women and Minorities: Women were underrepresented in decision-making processes at all levels of political institutions. Female representation in all branches of government was less than 30 percent. There were two female ministers but no ministers from minority groups. A deputy prime minister; the minister of labor, migration, and employment; and several deputy ministers were women. In the 63-member lower chamber of parliament, there were nine female members and one minority group member. In the 33-member upper chamber of parliament, there were four women and one member of a minority group. Cultural practices discouraged participation by women in politics, although the government and political parties made efforts to promote their involvement, such as the 1999 presidential decree that mandated every ministry or government institution have a female deputy. Civil society criticized this decree as a barrier to women holding top government positions. \*\
Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, U.S. government, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.
© 2008 Jeffrey Hays
Last updated April 2016