Most vote ‘Yes’ in Constitutional Referendum
A total of 4,038,183 or 91.74% of eligible voters voted in Sunday’s constitutional referendum. Of those 96.6% voted for the 41 changes proposed to the constitution according to the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda (CCER).
Amongst the key changes was the end of any term limits for the president and a lowering of the age to run for president from 35 to 30 which conveniently allow President Emomali Rahmon’s son, Rustam Emomali (28) to stand as president in 2020 if his father decides not to stand again. Emomali Rahmon has been the country’s president since 1992 and although there were two-term limits these were changed in a referendum in 1999 to seven years from five years and so the president declared that his first two presidential terms didn’t count.
Amongst the other constitutional changes was also the banning of all faith-based political parties which would finally remove the outlawed Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) from Tajikistan’s politics.
Most international commentators see the referendum as being the removal of the final barriers to the president becoming a president-for-life if he chooses to do so or to create a dynastic change with few prospects for a thriving opposition or democracy.