Tajikistan is a country located in the region of Central Asia. After nearly three decades in power, Tajikistan’s authoritarian President Emomalii Rahmon has gained complete control over the country. He and his People’s Democratic Party have won all elections since the early 1990s. Rahmon and his family have built up a cult of personality around him and seem to plan to retain power for decades to come.
In May 2016, the constitution was amended to allow Rahmon to run for office unlimited times. The change was the culmination of a long-time effort to concentrate power on him and his family.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of Tajikistan, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
At the same time, the age limit for a person who is going to run for office is lowered from 35 to 30 years. It probably happened that then-28-year-old President Son Rustam Emomalii was able to take over power after his father in the event that Rahmon would quickly die.
Own holiday and wisdom book
In 2017, his son Rustam Emomali was named mayor of the capital, Dusjanbe. In addition, the President appointed daughter Ozoda as her own Chief of Staff and made sure that she was elected to Parliament’s upper house. Another daughter became vice president of the country’s largest commercial bank in 2017. The bank’s CEO is the brother-in-law of the president. In April 2020, President Zone Rustam Emomali was elected Senate President, which means he is deputy in the absence or resignation of the President.
A number of other close relatives hold high positions in the state apparatus. Documents presented in a British court in 2008 showed that millions of dollars from aluminum mining had been transferred to an offshore company owned by a brother-in-law to Rahmon.
A new holiday has been introduced solely to pay tribute to the president and in 2017 a book was published with the president’s unified wisdom words and thoughts on peace, national independence, the country’s history and women. Rahmon’s image is visible on giant posters in Dushanbe and elsewhere in the country. Since 2017, it has been a criminal offense of five years’ imprisonment to publicly insult Rahmon.
In addition to the family, regional networks are central to Tajik politics. People from the president’s home district in Kulob dominate, which creates dissatisfaction in other parts of the country.
Tajikistan has had problems with radical Islamists in particular during the 2000s and 2010s. Hundreds of young men have received military training from extremist movements abroad. However, many of them have been arrested in recent years.
The regime has been accused of exploiting the residents’ fear of the extremists. It has not infrequently pointed out all opponents as Islamists and terrorists, regardless of their motive power. In September 2014, the country’s highest religious leader ruled that according to Islam, it is a great sin to criticize the rulers. Of all judgments, the condemnation took place in consultation with the government.
One step in the pursuit of oppositionists is a law from 2015 that says that anyone who joins foreign extremist movements should be deprived of their Tajik citizenship. Lawyers who defended suspected radical Islamists have been sentenced to prison for over 20 years.
The fight against radical Islam has also been expressed in a campaign to promote “traditional Tajik behavior”, including everything from proper attire, the style of beards and mustaches, to just enough food to be served at wedding parties (see Seder and customs), to Don’t cry excessively loud at funerals.
The 2020 parliamentary and presidential elections
Before the parliamentary elections on March 1, 2020, around 120 people were arrested for membership in banned Islamist groups. Among the arrested were a regional civil servant from northern Tajikistan and about 20 employees at higher education institutions. Religiously based parties have been banned since 2016.
The parliamentary elections were conducted without any real opposition from the opposition. The only real opposition party that participated was the Social Democratic Party, which mainly brings together the country’s intellectuals. President Rahmon’s ruling People’s Democratic Party received just over 50 percent of the vote. Five other parties took place in Parliament: the Agrarian Party, the Economic Reform Party, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party and the Democratic Party. It was the same position as in the 2015 election. The Social Democratic Party got less than 1 percent of the vote and ended up outside Parliament as before. The turnout was 86 percent. OSCE election observers reported that the election was not free and democratic, citing a number of irregularities and shortcomings.
The presidential election is scheduled to be held in November 2020.
Read more about the events in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Dzjumhurii Tajikiston / Republic of Tajikistan
republic, unitary state
Head of State
President Emomalii Rahmon (1992–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Qohir Rasulzoda (2013–)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
People’s Democratic Party 47, Agrarian Party 7, Economic Reform Party 5, Communist Party 2, Socialist Party 1, Democratic Party 1 (2020)
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
People’s Democratic Party 51, Agrarian Party 5, Economic Reform Party 3, Communist Party 2, Socialist Party 1, Democratic Party 1 (2015)
86% in the 2013 presidential election, 86% in the 2020 parliamentary elections
presidential elections 2020, parliamentary elections 2025
Attacks on government building
One person is killed in an explosion against a government office in Dushanbe. The prosecutor calls it an assassination in connection with the 15th anniversary of the president’s entry into power. The perpetrator is unknown.
Bridge connection to Afghanistan
A road bridge across the Amu-Darja border with Afghanistan is opened. The bridge replaces earlier ferry traffic and hopes to strengthen trade.
The president changes the name, will be called Rahmon
Rachmonov announces that he is deleting the Russian ending in his surname and instead uses the more Tajikiki sounding Rahmon (now without “c” with transcription from Tajik). An order is issued that children should be given Tajik names. Some celebrations and traditions associated with the Soviet era are also deleted.