WASHINGTON – Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman and Co-Chairman respectively of the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission), announce the convening of a Commission briefing entitled “Democracy in Tajikistan: Preview of the Presidential Election” on Thursday, October 26, 2006, at 2:00 p.m. in room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
Tajikistan was the only former Soviet state to experience a protracted civil war after the fall of communism. Despite significant poverty, the country has made notable gains since the peace agreement signed almost 10 years ago. The accord created a power-sharing agreement among the warring parties, including the only legal Islamic party in Central Asia.
The upcoming presidential election, scheduled for November 6, will demonstrate prospects for systemic democratization in Tajikistan. President Imomali Rakhmonov, who is running for reelection, has been in power since 1994. If he wins, constitutional amendments passed last year allow him to remain in office until 2020.
Recent decrees by the Tajik Central Commission on Elections and Referenda addressed some election system deficiencies, but questions remain about the follow through necessary to ensure a free and fair election. The government has provided opposition parties free time on state television, but also limited the ability of independent media outlets to operate freely. While there are multiple candidates, the major opposition leaders have experienced significant harassment from authorities and most have decided not to run.
The following panelists will address these and other related issues:
H.E. Khamrokhon Zaripov, Ambassador, Republic of Tajikistan
Dr. Eric M. McGlinchey, Assistant Professor of Government and Politics, George Mason University
Dr. Dennis de Tray, Vice President, Center for Global Development
Anthony C. Bowyer, Program Manager for Central Asia, IFES