Post-conflict Tajikistan could offer valuable lessons to her war-torn
neighbour Afghanistan.

By Saida Nazarova in Dushanbe

Tajikistan is providing inspiration for international organisations and
local politicians endeavouring to build a stable future in Afghanistan.

The Central Asian republic allowed former opposition figures to hold 
key government posts after the civil war, and while the country is still
stricken with economic and social difficulties, peace has prevailed.

Five years after fighting broke out in 1992, the country's feuding 
leaders came to the negotiating table to set up a workable interim 

Representatives of the government and the rebel United Tajik 
Opposition, UTO, signed a peace agreement on June 27, 1997.

Under the terms of the deal, UTO members took 30 per cent of central 
and local government positions in the Commission on National 
Reconciliation, CNR, which operated from August 1997 to April 2000.

Abdulmadjid Dostiev, deputy chairman of the Tajik parliament, and Said
Abdullo Nuri, UTO chairman and leader of the Islamic Rebirth Party, 
were named as its co-chairmen.

Opposition members are still involved in the current government, 
although Nuri no longer holds office.

In an interview with a Tajik newspaper, Nuri said, "After the 
completion of the work of the CNR, I said that I was prepared to support the peace 
in Tajikistan and do everything that I could without having to occupy any
official position."

Although the CNR was beset with tensions, these were largely limited to
verbal and written complaints. Ivo Petrov, head of the UN Mission of
Observers in Tajikistan, UNMOT, said, "The former opposing parties
understood that resolving issues through force would be destructive for
the country."

Inevitably, many CNR decisions were met with hostility from hotheads on
both sides of the political divide. Disarmament and the return of 
fighters to their homes proved to be particularly difficult issues.

Some UTO field commanders such as Rizvon Sodirov and Rakhmon Sanginov 
were so outraged by the CNR that they resumed fighting against both 
government forces and their former comrades. A wave of armed attacks, 
hostage-taking and lawlessness swept through the country.

Yet the joint administration survived and former opposition figures 
still hold important posts. Khodji Akbar Turadjonzoda is the current
vice-premier, Zaid Saidov is minister for industrial affairs and Mirzo
Ziyoev is in charge of civil defence and emergencies.

Ziyoev's elevation to such a key ministry is the most controversial
appointment to date. He commanded the UTO armed forces during the civil
war and was a close friend of Juma Namangani, the feared leader of the
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU. Namangani's close links with the
Taleban and Osama bin Laden have done little for Zieev's reputation.

A series of scandals involving two of Ziyoev's staff members - one of 
whom was allegedly involved in hostage-taking while another was implicated 
in the murder of a senior government figure - caused further difficulties 
for the minister, but he has hung onto his post.

While the majority of UTO members have become experienced politicians,
they are unpopular with voters and their CIS counterparts are cautious 
in their dealings with them.

Job security is also an issue. One opposition figure told IWPR that the
only ex-UTO members who feel safe in their posts are those who have 
since joined the ruling People's Democratic Party.

However, these claims have been dismissed by Rakhmanov's press chief 
Zafar Saidov. "Many representatives of the former UTO have remained in the
government. That is evidence that the president trusts them, and values
their work and their human qualities. Their presence is also necessary 
to provide a social-political balance," he said.

The international community is also keen to see such cooperation 

One diplomat working in Dushanbe believes that former UTO members 
should stay in the administration for the foreseeable future.

"This balance reflects the political situation in the country.
Professionalism and experience are what matters - not the party they
belong to," he said.

Saida Nazarova is the pseudonym of a journalist in Dushanbe


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