On February 21, Tajik president Emomali Rahmon proposed to reshuffle the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER), the country’s main election body. The list of proposed changes to the CCER’s senior management team was sent to the lower chamber of the parliament, which formally appoints members of the Commission.
President’s proposals include replacing CCER’s long-term chairperson, Mirzoali Boltuev (“in connection with his retirement”), with Shermuhammad Shohiyon. The latter was elected to the Tajik parliament in February 2010, as member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDPT), the ruling party headed by the president. He is now heading the parliament’s committee for security and defense. Other proposed changes include dismissing the Commission’s deputy chairperson, Mizrob Kabirov, and two panel members, Nizomiddin Zohidov and Saymurod Tagoev, “in connection with transfer to other jobs.” President Rahmon recommends that the parliament appoint Karomatullo Holikov, presently the Dean of the Law Faculty, Tajik National University, as new deputy chairman of the CCER. In addition, Rahmon proposes to appoint head of the trade unions in Sughd province Saidboy Zokirov, Ministry of Health official Rahmon Ziyo, and Public Council secretary Nurali Saidov as new members of the CCER (www.president.tj, February 21, 2011).
It is not clear at the moment why president Rahmon has decided to reshuffle the CCER’s senior management team. In many instances, there are little obvious reasons for government reshuffles in Tajikistan. It is very likely that the changes are part of president’s effort to promote loyal members of the ruling party.
The CCER is a 15-member body appointed by parliament on president’s proposal for a five-year term. The current Commission was appointed on December 16, 2009. The Commission includes representatives from all registered political parties, except the Social-Democratic Party (SDPT), as well as independent members (www.khovar.tj, December 16, 2009). The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), which monitored the February 2010 elections, found that the Commission was “more inclusive than in previous elections.”
Although the Commission is formally independent in its work, in practice it remains subordinate to the president’s office. Tajik analyst Rajab Mirzo suggests that the current CCER chairman, Mirzoali Boltuev, has had little independence in doing his job. According to the analyst, opposition parties frequently mentioned to him that whenever they addressed electoral violations to Boltuev, he always advised to discuss them first with the political leadership of the country (www.ozodi.org, February 21, 2011).