Tajikistan - Domestic policy

After defeating the oppositionists in 1992, Rakhmonov followed the path of other authoritarian leaders in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan by putting into place one of the most authoritarian political systems in Central Asia. Opposition political parties were banned or suppressed, press freedoms were circumscribed, and human and civil rights were frequently violated.

While no longer specifically obliged, as he was under the peace accords, to allocate one-third of government positions to the UTO, Rakhmonov has kept some former UTO officials in senior cabinet-level positions. While the government and the now incorporated former opposition continue to distrust each other, they have often found a way to work with each other and seem to be committed to peacefully resolving their differences.

In his April 2003 State of the Nation address, Rakhmonov outlined the state of Tajikistan's economic development and defended proposed constitutional amendments which are to be put to a referendum in June 2003. Rakhmonov stated that the economy must grow at a rate of 6% and that inflation must be kept to no more than 7% for the country to prosper. He cited the need to have foreign investors finance the construction of hydroelectric facilities. Rakhmonov also stated that a large proportion of government investment in 2003 would be devoted to education and health, and that poor families would receive government subsidies to help them pay for higher gas and electricity costs (electricity prices rose 200% and gas prices rose 30% since the beginning of 2003).

The constitutional amendments proposed for June 2003 deal with a variety of issues, including the death penalty and healthcare. The most important amendment, however, will deal with an extension of the president's term of office. In 1999, the president's term of office was extended from five to seven years, but was limited to one term. The next election is scheduled for 2006. Rakhmonov's term, if the amendment passes, could be extended for another seven years.

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