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Life-term presidency for Emomali Rakhmon approved at Tajikistan referendum

May 23, 9:19 UTC+3 DUSHANBE
According to the country’s Central Election Commission, 94.5% endorsed the amendments to the Constitution at the referendum
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Emomali Rakhmon

Emomali Rakhmon

© Alexey Druzhinin/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

DUSHANBE, May 23. /TASS/. Tajikistan’s constitutional amendments envisaging life-term presidency of the current head of state, Emomali Rakhmon, were approved at Sunday’s referendum, the country’s Central Election Commission has said.

According to the commission, a total of 3.814 million people or 94.5% of the Central Asian country’s population out of 4.402 million voters endorsed the amendments at the referendum.

The citizens of Tajikistan had to answer just one question: "Do you accept amendments to the country’s constitution?" Under the country’s law, the decision on the issue put up for a referendum is adopted if more than half of citizens approve it.

The voters agreed that the provision of article 65 of the constitution that the president may not serve more than two consecutive terms does not apply to Rakhmon, who was given the title "Founder of Peace and National Unity, Leader of the Nation" by the parliament in December 2015. The article is added by the wording that the restrictions do not apply to Rakhmon.

The Tajik citizens also called for amending article 8 of the constitution to ban political parties of other states, the creation of parties on national and religious basis and financing political parties by foreign countries and organizations, legal entities and foreign citizens.

The new amendments also lower the minimum age for presidential candidates as well as members of both houses of parliament, judges of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the High Economic Court to 30 years from the current 35.

The current Tajik constitution was adopted on November 6, 1994. It has been amended twice by a referendum. A two-chamber parliament was established in 1999. In 2003, the presidential term was extended from five to seven years. That gave an opportunity to incumbent President Emomali Rakhmon to remain in office until 2020.

Сompliance with local laws 

According to a Russian observer, Tajikistan’s referendum on constitutional amendments was held in full compliance with the country’s laws.

"We are monitoring only the observance of legal procedures. In this respect, the referendum was held in full compliance with the laws," Sergey Sirotkin, a member of the Russian Central Election Commission who head the Russian monitoring mission, said over the phone.

In his words, no violations were registered at the polling stations he visited.

He stressed that any judgment of issues put for vote is beyond the competence of observers. "It is their domestic affair. We assess only observance of procedural aspects," he underscored. "We have found that the legislative base allows to conduct such a referendum and see the expression of the nation’s will."

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