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Tajikistan has experienced three changes in government and a five-year civil war since it gained independence in 1991 from the USSR. A peace agreement among rival factions was signed in 1997, and implementation reportedly completed by late 1999. Part of the agreement required the legalization of opposition political parties prior to the 1999 elections, which occurred, but such parties have made little progress in successful participation in government. Random criminal and political violence in the country remains a complication impairing Tajikistan's ability to engage internationally.
Update No: 263 - (26/11/02)
The Tajik leadership is not convinced that the threat of militant Islam is over. They are conferring with the Kyrgyz on measures to contain it. The Central Asian regimes use the Islamicist menace as an excuse to justify repression and infringement of human rights. It is a useful bogy, with which to scare the population and coerce them into submission.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) has taken a fearful toll in recent fighting in Afghanistan, losing one of its leaders and many cadres. But there are other wings of this group in the region and there is no reason to believe that they have all given up the ghost after the routing of the Taleban and al-Qaeda. There may still be a genuine threat of Islamic fundamentalism in the region, and hence in Tajikistan, even if this has its uses and is not altogether unwelcome to the regime.
Central Asian debate
The Tajik government hosted a meeting of the Central Asia Cooperation group in the capital, Dushanbe, recently, which was an occasion for more than just concerting measures against the fanatics. Everything from energy to water management to coping with refugees came under review, as well as security concerns.
The meeting led to several documents being signed, which minister to a strengthening of relations among the member states. Military cooperation among them under the umbrella of the CIS was ratified. The four states agreed to set up a Central Asian branch of the CIS anti-terrorist centre and to coordinate a programme of resistance to and repression of organised crime (including drug-running), international terrorism and other manifestations of extremism. The Islamicist militants finance their military activities by selling drugs and engaging in criminal pursuits generally, all justified by the Jihad.
The management of water resources is an acute concern in the region, afflicted by drought now for three years in a row. It was agreed to hold an international forum on the subject in September 2003. It was suggested that a UN commission is required to study ways of preventing the death of the Aral Sea. Uzbek President Islam Karimov rehashed the old suggestion that Siberian rivers could be diverted to Central Asia "if Russia agrees."
The meeting keeps Tajikistan in the high international profile it has assumed since the war in Afghanistan.
There have been welcome developments on the economic front. GDP is growing by 8.1% on an annual basis this year, reaching US$600m in the first eight months. Industrial production grew by 5.5% in the same period on an annual basis and agricultural production by 10.6%.
The IMF is closely monitoring the economic situation in Tajikistan. It is generally supportive since Dushanbe agreed in March to a Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies.
Niyazov OKs electricity supply to Tajik alumina
In response to a request from the Tajik government, Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov has issued a decree on the export between October 2002- May 2003 of 1.2bn kilowatt hours of electricity to Tajikistan.
The energy is destined for Tajikistan's aluminium sector, which is one of the country's major consumers of electricity and yields the lion's share of its industrial production and exports.
Tajikistan to develop two mini power plants
The Tajik Ministry of Industry has announced that it will construct two types of mini power plants with capacities of 35 kW and 50-60 kW, respectively, according to Asia-Plus. The plant will manufacture assembly parts, while Russian companies will assembly some electronic parts. The products to be made at the plant have already been tested and approved.
The Industry Ministry's press service member, Abdugahhor Davlatov, was quoted as saying that the plant's management hope to boost the plant's production capacity in the coming years. The plant is expected to build other types of mini power plants and new types of pumps, Asia-Plus said. The product is aimed for the domestic market, Davlatov said. According to him, the product will help Tajikistan hammer out numerous socio-economic problems related to lack of or delay in electricity supplies to remote areas of the country.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
US determined to offer long-term help to Tajikistan
The US administration is offering support for two new joint projects between USAID and the Tajik government, the US embassy at Dushanbe said in a statement, cited by Asia-Plus News Agency.
Aid will be given to various projects, such as tax and financial reforms, bank supervision and regulation of banking activities. The embassy said these projects form a long-term commitment of the United States to offer support to the Central Asian state.
USAID finalised an agreement with Baring Point Consulting, wherein skilled experts would work with people at the Ministry of State Revenues and Tax Collections, and the National Bank of Tajikistan. Aid to the ministry comprises the development of tax procedures and the promotion of better operations via computerisation of the tax department. Taxpayers would benefit from this move.
MINERALS & METALS
Nelson Resources announces purchase of its gold mine by Avocet Mining
Nelson Resources Limited has reported that it has completed an agreement with Avocet Mining PLC (Avocet Mining) whereby Avocet Mining has acquired Nelson's 44% ownership interest in the Zeravshan Gold Company (ZGC) of Tajikistan, it was reported on Eurasia Insight.
The transaction involves the purchase from Nelson of 100% of the shares of Commonwealth & British Minerals Limited (CBML) for a cash consideration of US$1.45m and 14 million shares of Avocet ordinary shares. Avocet is listed in London on AIM and its shares have recently traded at around 12 to 16 pence sterling. Through its acquisition of CBML, Avocet assumes the 44% ownership interest in ZGC.
"We are very pleased to have entered into this transaction with Avocet Mining," said Nelson CEO and Chairman, Nick Zana. "This allows an experienced gold mining company to develop and fully realize the potential of ZGC, and allows Nelson Resources to focus on the development of its oil reserves in Kazakstan and the Caspian region. We also expect to benefit from the appreciation of our shares in Avocet."
In partnership with Kazmunaigaz, Nelson holds a 50% interest in Kazakhoil Aktobe, which is developing the large Alibekmola and Kozhasai oil fields in Western Kazakstan. In addition, Nelson has an agreement with Kazmunaigas granting Nelson, subject to certain conditions, an option to acquire a 25% participatory interest in Zhambai LLP. Zhambai holds a licence for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons at the Caspian offshore blocks South Zhambai and South Zaburunye in the Atyrau Oblast of Kazakstan in the North Caspian Sea close to the Volga River delta.
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