Category Archives: Political succession

Tajik Authorities Vow to Fight Nepotism

The introduction of additional legal restrictions on “family hire” in public service and the recent warnings by senior officials against nepotistic practices in government indicate that the Tajik authorities recognize the political risks stemming from nepotism. This recognition appears to be linked with the political upheavals in Kyrgyzstan and, more recently, the Arab world. However, a genuine anti-nepotism agenda of the Tajik government is unlikely because President Rahmon himself has virtually monopolized political and economic power in the hands of his family. Therefore, the government’s declared anti-nepotism crusade appears to be designed for public consumption.

BACKGROUND: On October 12, the lower chamber of Tajikistan’s parliament approved changes to the 2007 Law on Corruption. The amendments introduce stronger restrictions on “family hire” in public service by broadening the group of “close relatives” who cannot be hired by senior state officials to work in their agencies. This group now includes spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters, as well as sons-in-law and daughters-in-law and their parents.
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Tajik President’s Son to Oversee the National Football Team

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s oldest son, Rustam Emomali, has been appointed to supervise the national football (soccer) team ahead of the qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup. Tajikistan will play in the second round of qualifiers despite losing 6-1 on aggregate to Syria earlier in the year. Following the defeat, Tajikistan wrote to FIFA requesting an investigation into whether Syria’s striker George Mourad, who had played and scored in both games against Tajikistan, was eligible to play for Syria.  Mourad had previously played for Sweden’s Under-21 team in 2003 and the national team in 2005. On August 19, FIFA ruled to disqualify Syria from the 2014 World Cup and reinstate Tajikistan into the competition. Tajikistan has replaced Syria in Group C of Asia, which Tajik commentators have already dubbed ‘The Group of Death,’ qualifying along with Japan, Uzbekistan and North Korea.

Rustam’s appointment is hardly surprising given the 23-year-old’s passion for football. The Tajik leader’s son owns a football club, which won the national championship in 2010 and appears set to repeat its success this year, and has long played for the club as a striker. As Emomali Rahmon began speeding up Rustam’s political career, allegedly in a bid to prepare him to succeed his father in office, Rustam stopped playing football professionally but was appointed as Vice-President of the country’s Football Federation in late 2010. Anyways, this appointment is much less controversial than Rustam’s previous promotions as head of department in the State Committee for Investments and State Property Management, deputy chief of Youth Movement, member of Dushanbe City Legislature and, most recently, head of the Customs Service’s department to fight illegal activity (a job that comes with the rank of a major).

Rustam has already appointed Istiqlol’s coach, Alimjon Rafiqov, as acting national coach. The Tajik national team’s former manager, Pulod Qodirov, resigned in August after his team was defeated by Syria.

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Filed under Political succession, Sports, Tajikistan

Tajik Government Plans to Initiate a Constitutional Reform

The Tajik government prepares to introduce a constitutional reform process which, according to analysts, will alter the country’s political system, possibly paving the way for President Rahmon’s son to succeed him as the country’s leader in 2020.

On February 13, the head of the government-run Strategic Research Centre (SRC) Suhrob Sharipov told Radio Ozodi that the SRC had developed a series of amendments to the country’s constitution from 1994 and submitted them to the president’s office for review. Sharipov suggested that the proposed amendments aimed at transforming Tajikistan’s “governing structure” to bring it in line with “modern trends and realities”.

The announcement of the imminent reform was apparently not cleared with the country’s leadership. On February 14, the day after the announcement, Sharipov’s deputy, Sayfullo Safarov, denied that his boss had ever discussed possible constitutional amendments with the media. Safarov said the SRC was not aware of any government plans to amend the country’s constitution. “Ideas about potential amendments to certain provisions of the constitution have been extensively discussed by media over the last several years”, he said. These ideas included introducing constitutional safeguards against nepotism and regional favoritism, and amending education-related articles, following the country’s shift to a 12-year education system. However, Safarov stressed, these were “just ideas”.
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Tajik President’s Son Appointed as Head of Customs Service Department

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his eldest son, Rustam Emomali

Rustam Emomali, the eldest son of Tajik president Emomali Rahmon, has been appointed as head of the Tajik Custom Service’s department to combat illegal activities. Rumors about the appointment, which have been circulating in the country over the last two weeks, were confirmed yesterday by the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Tajik service.

This is the latest in a series of promotions for the 23-year-old graduate of the Tajik National University’s International Relations department. Rustam had previously headed a department in the State Committee on Investments and State Property. In 2009, he was named deputy chief of Tajikistan’s youth union and elected a member of the Dushanbe city council. Besides, he was elected a member of the central committee of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDPT), which is officially headed by president Rahmon. In 2010, Rustam also became deputy head of Tajikistan’s football (soccer) federation. Most Tajiks, however, know Rustam as a soccer player in Dushanbe-based Istiklol club, which he happens to own. Unlike most other members of the president’s family, Rustam does not appear to have serious business interests. He reportedly owns a local Internet service provider, Saturn-Online, which brings little profit.

Rustam is not the only child that the Tajik leader has recently promoted to senior positions within the government. In September 2009, Rahmon appointed his 30-year-old daughter, Ozoda Rakhmonova, as the country’s deputy minister of foreign affairs. The latest appointments appear to demonstrate the president’s resolve to further consolidate power in Tajikistan in the hands of his family members.

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Filed under Authoritarianism, Government, Political succession, Tajikistan