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: 271 - (24/07/03)
The Tajiks are not exactly a democratic nation. They are the poorest of the FSU states and that doubtless helps to explain it. On June 22nd they went to the polls in a referendum on whether the incumbent president, Imomali Rakhmanov, was to have two more seven-year terms when his present one expires in 2006. That would keep him in power until 2020.
The turn-out was said to be 100%. Such authorities do not bother with subtleties in these matters. People were so eager to vote that they queued up two hours before polls opened, they said. Rakhmanov is what they are being offered and he is what they will get for the duration.
Rakhmanov hails from the southern Kulyabi militia, having been born in Kulyab Oblast (now Hatton Oblast) in 1952. He distinguished himself in the civil war of 1992-93, becoming president in November 1992, a mark of the Kulyabi militia's importance in securing victory for the communists.
He has promoted many a Kulyabi to high office, although he could not afford to alienate the wealthy Khojandis completely, based in the richer north.
Propped up by Russian and Uzbek forces, the regime has kept the Islamic fundamentalist opposition at bay. In doing so it has won a measure of Western support. It is at least a bulwark against the resurgent Afghan hotheads, deems the West, and an ally in the long campaign against terrorism.
Stability is what the president offers; and this is appreciated in the strife-torn region.
US embassy in Dushanbe develops
A ceremony marking the laying of the foundation of the US embassy in Tajikistan valued at US$63m, was carried out in Dushanbe recently, according to Interfax News Agency.
The United States opened an embassy in the Tajik capital more than a decade ago. Prior to 1998, the embassy was located in the Oktyabr Hotel, and is currently a rented space in a residential building in downtown Dushanbe.
Interfax quoted Tajik Prime Minister Akil Akilov as saying the US administration's decision to construct an embassy in Dushanbe indicated that Washington wishes to fuel cooperation with the Tajik government.
FOREIGN LOANS & AID
Washington offers aid
US Deputy Assistance Secretary of State, Lynn Pasco, has announced that Washington will offer another US$10m in aid to Tajikistan to help the state deal with the damage caused by recent natural disasters, according to Interfax News Agency.
Pascoe's announcement followed her recent meeting with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov. The US official explained that the United States has close political and business ties with Tajikistan. "This cooperation will continue," Pasco was quoted as saying.
Japan gives help for schooling
The Japanese government is determined to provide help to Tajikistan and its education system. Japan has already granted US$37,000 to equip a secondary school, the Russian ITAR-TASS News Agency reported. As the poorest of the 15 ex-USSR states, Tajikistan will welcome financial aid for its schools.
The news agency said class enrolment is dwindling and the dropout rate is climbing. The Japanese will offer over 400 new school desks, other furniture and equipment to the Kofarnikhovsky region, which has already been repaired with US$116,000 in funds, earmarked from the Japanese embassy budget. Despite the long-gone civil war (1992-1997), Tajikistan has lost many teachers with positions still empty. The average salary is just US$13 a month.
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