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Tajikistan: Difficult Peace Talks Achieve Little

  • Salimjon Aioubov



Prague, 21 January 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The latest round of inter-Tajik negotiations ended in Teheran on Sunday with minimal results. That was contrary to the expectations of many analysts, who believed it would be a decisive encounter following December's successful meeting in Moscow between Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov and the head of the United Tajik opposition Sayid Abdullo Nuri.

The Teheran talks were "difficult," according to participants, and both sides accepted compromise on lesser issues after long and hard negotiations.

They signed an agreement on refugee problems and a protocol covering initial steps such as a general amnesty and the appointment of a central election commission. But they could not create the key National Reconciliation Commission which was foreseen in the Moscow agreements.

An RFE/RL correspondent says this shows that the success of the Moscow summit was possible only because of the Kremlin's pressure on both sides, particularly on President Rakhmonov. At the summit the two leaders, apart from agreeing on the reconciliation commission, also agreed on a ceasefire to last the duration of the peace negotiations.

But afterwards, when Rakhmonov returned to Dushanbe, some of his advisers went so far as to say that they disagreed with the results of the Moscow talks, and other members of the presidential team said they would vote against them in parliament.

Complicating the picture, renegade Colonel Makmud Khudoiberdiev chose this moment to launch a new offensive with his special Defence Ministry brigade against another armed group which is nominally aligned with the government.

Khudoiberdiev's march to Tursunzade brought the danger of a wave of new battles in Tajikistan. However the main government and opposition forces in war-torn regions of the country such as Tavildara and Garm continued to observe the ceasefire.

But if the Teheran talks could be said to have had little formal result, they did have an unexpected impact inside the country.

On January 15, amid the talks, the residents of the northen Kanibadam district protested against both sides of talks and demanded the National Revival Bloc's participation in the peace process.

The bloc, led by former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdulladjanov, draws its strongest support from the north. It is widely viewed as a regional political force rather than an element of the national scene. He was not invited to attend the Teheran talks, even though several deputies and regional leaders of southern Kubodijon, Shahritus, Kurgonteppa and western Tursunzoda districts had requested the government in advance to allow Abdulladjanov's participation.

Abdulladjanov himself claims he has supporters in all parts of the country, and he said that without his bloc's participation, the goal of national reconciliation would be unrealistic.

Soon the pro-bloc protests spread to Khujand, main city of northern Leninabad region. The protesters demanded 49 percent of the government's share of seats on the National Reconciliation Commission for Abdullajanov's bloc, because he had gathered 49 percent votes in 1994 presidential election.

The Abdullajanov protests were ignored by the Teheran negotiators and the UN officials mediating the talks. But the protests, along with the impulsive action of renegade Colonel Khudoiberdiev, illustrate the difficulties which can suddenly arise to threaten the stabilization process in Tajikistan.

This is not a country where peace can be arranged through the mere signing of protocols. Some analysts, such as Aziz Niyozi of the Russian Academy of Science, believe that the Tajik conflict has deep roots interwoven with economic, political and ecological crisis.

Open conflict between different Tajik clans began in 1992 and has continued under deteriorating conditions. The population continues to grow rapidly and there is a catastrophic shortage of water, land, energy and food resources.

Comprehensive stabilization depends on solving these problems. But our correspondent points out that neither the government, nor the opposition have any program of action in this situation. They have no political or economic programs for the future.
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