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Tajikistan: Government, Opposition Sign Peace Accord

Moscow, 27 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Tajik President Emmomali Rakhmonov and Islamic opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri today signed a peace agreement aimed at bringing to a formal end four years of bloody civil war in Tajikistan. The accord includes agreements on the return of refugees, the release of prisoners of war and the setting up of a national reconciliation commission.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who looked on as the signing took place at a Moscow ceremony, said afterwards that Russia "will be watching to make sure" that the agreements are not violated.

Nuri called for holding free democratic elections in the republic, adding that they would require "significant changes" in the electoral law so that no political faction is given preferential treatment.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Nuri also expressed his thanks to RFE/RL "for the considerable role" the radios played in bringing about the peace accord in Tajikistan.

One of the leaders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) says that the signing of a landmark Tajik peace accord in the Kremlin today was made possible by intense last-minute diplomatic negotiations.

Ali Akbar Turajondzoda told RFE/RL in an exclusive interview that UTO leaders met international and Russian mediators three times during the last 24 hours to solve a number of pending issues.

Turajondzoda said the last such meeting took place this morning and was attended by top representatives of the Tajik government and opposition and by diplomats from the UN, Russia and Iran.

The meetings cleared the way for the signing today of the protocal and peace accord. UN special Envoy to Tajikistan Gerd Dietrich Merrem, Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati also signed the protocol.

Turajondzoda said that under the documents signed today, the first meeting of a National Reconciliation Commission to be chaired by the UTO's Nuri will take place on July 7 in Moscow. He said that before that date, members of the Reconciliation Commission should prepare recommendations for a draft amnesty bill. Turajondzoda added that the Reconciliation Commission will meet in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, as soon as the Tajik parliament passes the amnesty bill.