SDPT to Stage Rally in Khorogh E-mail



Tajikistan’s Social-Democratic Party intends to hold a protest demonstration in Khorogh, Badakhshan province, on April 8, Asia-Plus reports. The party’s regional branch has issued a special statement on the forthcoming event. The SDPT leader Rahmatollah Zairov insisted that the rally would take place regardless of the authorities’ disapproval.

Ceding 1000 square kilometres of the Pamir range to China in 2002, transferring the administration of 6 Badakhshani villages to Tavildara district, and law enforcement agents’ misbehaviour will be among issues to be raised in the rally, said Zairov.

Zairov believes that by giving away 1000 sq km (386 square miles) of the Tajik land to China the Rahmon administration has breached the Constitution. Article 7 of the Constitution declares the territory of the country as indivisible and inviolable. Yet the agreement on boundary delimitation between Tajikistan and China was signed and ratified by both sides about 6 years ago. By signing the accord China relinquished its claims to 28,000 sq km (10,810) of Tajikistan’s territory. In 2006 the two countries pledged to commence demarcation of the revised boundary, but then one could have heard a pin drop in Tajikistan’s political arena.

The two latter issues are rather fresh and have caused a few rallies already. Last Monday around 300 people gathered in Khorog to protest against ‘the law enforcement organs’ extortion and misbehaviour’ and parliament’s recent decision to transfer 6 Badakhshani villages to Tavildara district of republican subordination. The decision was ratified by the Majlisi Milli (the Upper Chamber) on March 7 despite a parliamentarian’s objection who demanded to leave it up to the regional Badakhshani Majlis. "The question was supposed to be discussed with the local council of people’s deputies beforehand", says Rahmatullah Zairov.



According to Zairov, there are around 500 SDPT members in Badakhshan and the party enjoys a wide base of support in the region. However, the party’s decision to publicly challenge the government in Khorog could have been taken for the more suitable political atmosphere in Badakhshan that has allowed several rallies to be staged outside the local government offices lately. Apart from March protests there was another demonstration last February in Khorogh where about 500 female traders protested against plans to increase the price of already expensive trading licences fearing that this would put them out of business.

With the Islamic Renaissance Party sliding towards the government, Social Democrats seem to represent a comparatively serious opposition to Rahmon’s administration. Established in 1998 as Justice and Progress party, it was renamed to the Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan in 2002. Its leader Rahmatullah Zairov quit his job of the presidential advisor on legal affairs in 2003 in protest at a constitutional referendum that granted Rahmon 2 more successive 7-year terms. The party believes that Rahmon’s presidency is illegitimate even under the amended Constitution. Social Democrats advocate for a precise power-sharing arrangements between legislative, executive and judiciary branches stated in Article 9 of the Constitution.

"Article 69 that burdens the executive branch with all sorts of responsibilities, is the main cause of the current crisis", said Zairov in his recent interview to the BBC Persian Service. The article consists of 26 points of President’s obligations and includes a wide range of governmental duties.

The Social Democratic party has no seats in the parliament. Zairov blames this misfortune on election fraud.
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